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CHIEF OF POLICE
UNDER THE SECOND EMPIRE
Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley
ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE & COMPANY, Ltd.
BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
COPYRIGHT 1907 BY HOUGHTON MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
These Memoirs have been condensed in the present
edition. Many parts of them are long out of date ; such,
for instance, as the chapters on police regulations and the
prisons of Paris ; while the police reports and proces-ver-
baux are as dull reading as the daily records of the Old
But the historical parts, the underside of well-known
events and persons during the reign of Louis-Philippe and
the Second Empire, are valuable, curious, and very interest-
ing. The book was published in 1881, and the London
Spectator, when reviewing it in the summer of that year,
said that it was perfectly trustworthy, and that its state-
ments had not been refuted.
These Memoirs are in ten volumes. The present volume
condenses five, bringing the story down to the end of the
Empire. The remaining volumes relate to the siege of
Paris and the Commune. M. Claude resigned his post in
K. P. W.
I. My Youth and my Vocation i
II. Secret Societies and the Police under
iii. how i became acquainted with my future
IV. The End of a Reign and its Consequences 44
V. The Coup d'Etat and my Victims 62
VI. The Police under the Empire 79
vii. how i protected the interests of a great
VIII. The Bombs of Orsini 103
IX. Beranger — His Funeral 124
X. Jud, the Mysterious Assassin of a Judge
of the Imperial Court 133
XL Gamblers and Gambling-Houses 153
XII. Thieves and Forgers 162
XIII. The Diamonds of the Duke of Bruns-
XIV. Another Interview with M. Thiers 184
XV. Journalism under the Empire 195
XVI. The First Thunderclap — Tropmann 210
XVII. The Second Thunderclap — Victor Noir 242
XVIII. The War 258
XIX. After Defeat — The Political Ghosts 279
XX. Installation of the Government of
September 4 303
COMTE DE MORNY
Pierre Jean de Beranger
Leroy de Saint- Arnaud
Louis Adolphe Thiers
The Prince Imperial
MY YOUTH AND MY VOCATION
I WAS born at Toul (Meurthe), on the 17th of
October, 1807, of an honourable family, though
limited in means. I am proud of my town, which
resisted the Prussian invasion. I am glad to belong to
a population which carried its respect for duty up to
heroism, and its contempt of danger to the very limit of
courage. I may add that I take pleasure in attributing
those gifts, if I have shown them in my long and diffi-
cult career, to my brave co-citizens, whose glorious his-
tory is written on their ramparts.
The limited means of my family obliged me to leave
my province early in life, to make for myself an inde-
pendent existence. Anxious to remain as short a time
as possible at the cost of my parents, who had given
me a good and careful education, I left Toul when nine-
teen years of age and went to Paris.
In this I was less guided by ambition than by the
wish to make myself a lucrative career ; which, in those
days, the provinces could not offer to a young man like
me, whose education had been above his situation. I
brought with me a recommendation to a friend of my
family, M. de L , a man of independent means and
2 MEMOIRS OF
social position in Paris. By him I was at once placed
in the office of an attorney.
I was not precisely on the road to fortune ; sitting
from morning till night at a desk, copying deeds, veri-
fying records, unless I were carrying files of papers to
and fro between the attorney's office in the Palais de
Justice and its clients — a gutter-jumping employment
which was not to my taste. With an inquiring mind,
very fond of the exciting and the unexpected, under an
external appearance of easy good-nature, I hated this
life of a squirrel's whirligig, which stretched my legs
and paralysed my imagination.
Nevertheless, I remained three years a lawyer's clerk.
From gutter-jumper I rose to the rank of second clerk ;
and there I might have remained indefinitely if certain
aptitudes of mine had not shown themselves in time to
assign me another mission. Chance put me in the way
to find my true vocation, and to prove to my comrades
that nature had endowed me with a faculty of observation
which would make me, in time, a skilful policeman.
This chance, which decided my vocation, I owe to a
man afterwards very celebrated in the annals of crime.
It happened in 1829, of a Saturday. I had been invited,
with a score of other clerks from the offices of notaries
and attorneys, to a Pantagruelian dinner, given by a
future neophyte. This young man, I was told, was the
son of a rich merchant in the provinces. After spend-
ing in Paris all the money he could get from his father,
he was now obliged to employ his brilliant faculties in
some profession. Being very intimate with certain law-
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 3
yer's clerks, he was enabled by them to enter their
patron's office, as he had already given some time in
the provinces to the study of law. By way of gratitude,
he was now to spend his last francs in a farewell feast to
his turbulent youth, given to his friends in the notary's
office which he was about to enter. A few attorney's
clerks were added to the number of his guests, among
whom I had the honour of admission.
I had not, hitherto, known my host, whom his friends,
out of respect, they said, for his family during the period
of his dissipated life, called George. I was all the more
curious to know him because my friends had repre-
sented him to me as a hero.
" If he does not, as yet," they added, " make known
his family name, it is less because he dreads paternal
anger at his peccadilloes — very excusable at his age
— than because he fears the police. They have had their
eyes on him ever since he killed his adversary, a traitor
to France, in a duel, and thus proclaimed, in a threat-
ening way for the government, his opinions as a Car-
France was just then on the eve of Charles X's ordon-
nances, and the Opposition were making demigods of
the Carbonari. The French Bar was not backward in
exhibiting its preferences for the Opposition, which
promised to young lawyers a far more brilliant career
than that of mere defenders of the widow and orphan.
In 1829 politics were everywhere; even the snuff-
boxes and the hats were adorned with portraits of
Lafitte, Benjamin Constant, Dupont de l'Eure, and
4 MEMOIRS OF
Lafayette. In every cafe and every restaurant the cus-
tomers were assorted according to their ways of think-
ing ; and each was on its guard against its adversaries.
It goes without saying that the clerks of notaries and
attorneys, the least well paid and well treated of the
judicial hierarchy, were all, to a man, in the ranks of
As for me, an ardent apostle of liberty, I considered
it a great privilege to be invited to meet this hero, this
martyr to his opinions. The duel raised him to a pin-
nacle in my young imagination. I was prepared to fol-
low him with enthusiasm even before I saw him.
The dinner was given at the Veau qui fete [Sucking
Calf], a restaurant then in vogue. The giver of the
feast was a young man about twenty-five years of age ;
fair, graceful, elegant, with a smiling face set off by a
silky moustache, without which he might have passed
for a woman in disguise, or a schoolboy. He was ex-
cessively thin, but the frail body, so delicate in appear-
ance, covered a robust constitution, judging by the
suppleness of his limbs, and the strong play of his
muscles. A man who sat beside him, and appeared to
be his chosen comrade, was, on the contrary, a stout
fellow, whose burly figure made the slender propor-
tions of his friend the more noticeable ; nevertheless,
this stoutness showed more weakness than strength,
a constitution ravaged by excesses, and threatened
with plethora. He seemed the type of an army officer
degraded to the ranks. His name was Begand, and,
like his friend George, he came from Lyons.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 5
As the dinner went on, passing through the various
discordant phases of jollity, I watched with more and
more curiosity the two chief leaders of the feast. Law-
yers' clerks are, as a rule, very easily excited by the
blood of the vine. I noticed that George, from the mo-
ment when his guests began to sway, kept perfect pos-
session of himself, in spite of the bottles before him.
Yet he drank, and drank steadily. It is true, however,
that he scarcely touched the dishes as they were passed
to him. His comrade, on the contrary, ate enormously,
and drank all the more to stimulate his gluttony.
Towards the end of the dinner, I observed that the
more the face of Begand flushed, the more that of
George turned livid. I then perceived that his gentle,
almond-shaped eyes, the pupils of which had hitherto
been bathed in a sort of magnetic fluid, were now shining
with the brilliancy of steel. His brows were knit and
lowered in a threatening manner. His lips had a sav-
age grin; and the young man who, at the beginning of
the meal, wore the head of an angel, at its close had
the face of a hyena.
A strange thing now happened to me. As the man
became transformed, or rather, as the mask fell from
him, I became conscious that I myself was no longer
the same. An evil influence acted upon me. This man,
who had been depicted to me as a hero, I now saw for
what he was — a criminal. The odour of blood that ex-
haled from all his pores intoxicated me far more than
the wine that I had drunk. I felt myself stirred by an
instinct against that malefic nature, as a shepherd's dog
6 MEMOIRS OF
smells the wolf that is roaming round the flock. These
magnetic impressions, these luminous perceptions, have,
since then, often come to me at the sight or the contact
of an evildoer; in fact, without depending upon them,
they have been a great help to me in my delicate
and difficult investigations. I admit that on this occa-
sion these impressions, which I felt for the first time,
bewildered me ; and, not understanding the instinctive
horror I felt for this George, whom my friends thought
a demigod, I was angry with myself for my assumptions.
In order to get rid of this mirage in my mind, which
might be, after all, a veil of intoxication, I listened at-
tentively to what he was saying. Without being, accord-
ing to the consecrated word of that day, as emu as his
guests, he was certainly excited by the champagne, and
I soon saw that he was taking delight in gaining, by
his cynical remarks, the admiration of those around
him. I also saw that the fat Begand, who sat beside
him, was claqueur to this orator, who posed as a wit.
At that period everything was discussed and argued
— religion, social matters, the family. Young men,
who personally had no knowledge of the past miseries
of the country, were amazed that France should have
reverted to her monarchical traditions. A toast was
drunk to the " Return of Liberty," to which George
responded as follows :
" Gentlemen, I drink to my former companions in
pleasure ; to my new associates in work ; all of them
victims, like myself, of the inequality of social condi-
tions. Entering, as I now do, the pale of the bourgeois
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 7
magistracy, — as narrow-minded and as stupid as all the
other castes, — I drink to the future that will avenge
us — us, the pariahs of civilization ! As for me, I have
struggled, I am vanquished ! One consolation is mine.
I have not surrendered without having fought valiantly ! "
"True! true!" cried the fat Begand. "We know
you, George! You are stalwart! You have proved
your metal! We all remember your duel with the
nephew of Benjamin Constant!"
At that name I shuddered. My singular impressions
were confirmed. Until then, my friends, when lauding
their future neophyte, had not named his adversary.
But all the particulars of the duel with Benjamin Con-
stant's nephew were known to me. He, being the in-
sulted party, fired first, and fired wide of his adversary.
The latter took his time, aimed deliberately, and shot
young Constant dead, through the right breast. This
duel, considered by the moderate liberals a murder,
was called by the ultra-radicals a just vengeance. When
I saw my comrades acclaiming a man who was nothing
less than a murderer, I looked about me to escape an
orgy that filled me with disgust. At this moment the
man himself broke up the feast. Ordering their glasses
filled for the last time, he rose and said :
" My friends, now that I quit the world of idlers and
enter with you the class of earners, I shall no longer
have the silly vanity to conceal my patronymic. My
name is Lacenaire."
That name, which was not yet blasted, but which
was destined to inspire the coming generation with
8 MEMOIRS OF
legitimate horror, sounded in my ears like a funeral
knell. On leaving the restaurant of the Veau qui fete,
I felt as if some enormous weight were lifted off me.
My companions reproached me for not showing suffi-
cient enthusiasm at the manner with which this charm-
ing fellow had buried, with such perfect grace, his life
of a man of pleasure.
" Friends," I said, carried away by my physiological
impressions, " this Lacenaire, in spite of his smiling
face and his loquacity, — more cynical than witty, —
shows nothing good to me. Behind the mask of a gen-
tle, affectionate man he has the face of a wild beast.
My eyes have seen him such as he is — an enemy to
society. His features are handsome, I admit ; their ex-
pression is horrible. If his head is deceptive, his hand,
which I have closely examined, is not. That hand,
with its thin, flat fingers, enlarged at their extremities
like the heads of young reptiles, exhibits to me the
creeping cruelty of the individual. I tell you that that
man will not enter your notary's office next Monday.
And I '11 tell you more — before long you will hear
much about him. He has killed, and he will kill."
At these words, which I regretted as soon as I had
said them, my comrades declared I was crazy ; they
laughed at me. But one, the head clerk in the notary's
office, was very angry, and called me a calumniator.
Two days later they laughed no longer. Lacenaire
did not enter the notary's office ; and on Tuesday morn-
ing the safe was found to have been partly broken open
during the night. The thieves, alarmed probably by
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 9
some unexpected noise, had left the office without se-
curing the very considerable property contained in the
safe. Suspicion naturally fell on the young man who
had so won the confidence of the head clerk that the
latter recommended him for a position in the office,
which he had frequently visited while the matter was
A few months later, Lacenaire, before becoming the
odious assassin of the rue Montorgueil, was arrested
for theft at the Cafe de la Bourse. The news of this
robbery, committed by the brilliant amphitryon of the
Veau qui fete, caused a certain excitement in the legal
world. The head clerk who had called me a calumni-
ator never ceased to extol my perspicacity, which he
declared was witchcraft. He told the story on all sides
until it reached the ears of the head clerk of the Crim-
inal Court of the Tribunal of the Seine. That official,
perceiving that I might become a very precious employe
in his department, made me proposals which I accepted.
Little did I think that my instinctive perceptions at the
Veau qui t'ete were to open to me the doors of the Pre-
fecture. I now entered them as a humble clerk ; I was
on my true ground ; and I owed it to Lacenaire, thief,
forger, and murderer !
SECRET SOCIETIES AND THE POLICE
UNDER THE REIGN OF
AFTER the revolution of 1830, 1 rose from the
position of recording clerk to that of deputy clerk
of the Court of the Seine. There I performed the
functions, without having the title, of clerk of the crim-
inal and detective police courts \_greffier cf instruction
criminelle\ . I owed this rise partly to my zeal and my nat-
ural fitness for the work, and partly to political events.
At this epoch, constitutional monarchy, which, in the
words of a celebrated personage, was the " best of repub-
lics," needed energetic and judicious men to restrain,
in the interests of a power seeking peace, impatient
minds from forcing the realization of the programme
of the Charter. In spite of the easy, good-natured dis-
position of the Citizen-King, Louis-Philippe, he was ex-
posed, from the moment he mounted the throne, to the
rancours of all parties which did not even recoil before
the horrors of civil war. To protect himself, His Maj-
esty summoned around him the men who were most
interested in maintaining the privileges which the re-
volution of July had sought to suppress. I, myself, was
under a magistrate who continued to perform the same
MONSIEUR CLAUDE n
part he had formerly played under the " monarchy of
divine right." The police service was strengthened, both
at the Prefecture and at the Ministry of the Interior,
by the vigilant care of Casimir Perier [President of the
Council of Ministers]. The cabinet noir, suppressed for
a time in 1830, was re-established by General Sebas-
tiani, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The revolutionary movements which broke out in all
the countries of Europe, starting from Paris and its
secret societies (in which Republicans, Bonapartists, and
Legitimists were plotting in their several ways), necessi-
tated the creation of a new staff for the cabinet noir,
the functions of which did not cease until the overthrow
of Louis-Philippe in 1848.
In this connection, I must tell of a celebrated man,
Raspail — Francois Vincent Raspail — President of the
Society of the Amis du Peuple [Friends of the People].
Citizen Raspail, chemist, vegetable physiologist, and
artilleryman, had played a very important part among
the adversaries of Charles X's "ordinances." After
that he allowed himself to be forgotten by the cama-
rilla in the Laffitte salons, only, however, to reappear
with vigour as a journalist, notably in the Tribune, and
in political letters which he fulminated against the
new government. Everybody read, eagerly, his articles
against his late friends and associates who, in one night,
had wriggled into a "court-dress." The cabinet noir
was crammed with his letters against the King, who,
he said, "was none of his choosing."
The Citizen King, who sought for partisans, not for
12 MEMOIRS OF
adversaries, became much alarmed by Raspail's letters,
copies of which rained upon him daily from the cabinet
noir, and he said to Montalivet, then Minister of the
" Good God ! what does the man want ? "
"Sire," replied the Minister, "probably, like all the
other heroes of July, he wants the cross of the Legion
" Then give it to him," cried the King, "and let me
have peace ! "
Nothing further was said about Raspail between the
King and his Minister, but the latter did not allow
those august words to drop. On the morrow Raspail,
Friend of the People, democratic artilleryman, proprie-
tor of the Tribune, head of a secret society, received a
huge official document. Supposing it to be a summons
or an injunction, he threw it on his desk and began to
think of preparing for incarceration. But when, after
a time, he opened the missive, words could not express
the amazement with which he read as follows :
Monsieur, — I have the honour to announce to you
that, by ordinance under date March 13, 183 1, the King,
at my suggestion, has appointed you Chevalier of the
Legion of Honour. The Grand Chancellor of the Order
will at once send you a duplicate of this announcement
of your appointment.
Open-mouthed, his eyes bulging from their sockets,
Raspail turned and re-turned this letter, to see if the
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 13
date were not April 1 instead of March 13. The Re-
publican, expecting fetters, received the cross of hon-
our! He immediately wrote a reply to the Minister,
which did not need to go through the cabinet noir, for
he took care to send it simultaneously to all the news-
papers of the Opposition. In it the President of the
11 Friends of the People " said, among other amiabil-
ities, that the Government, "despairing of winning a
citizen through his conscience, took him by the button-
But between the reception of the official letter and
its answer a ministerial crisis had occured, and Casimir
Perier succeeded Montalivet. When the public refusal
of the Friend of the People appeared, Casimir Perier
exclaimed, with his natural stiffness and obstinacy:
"Very good: let Raspail choose — the cross of the
Legion of Honour or imprisonment in a dungeon."
Three days later the official announcement of his
appointment appeared in the Moniteur, Furious, Ras-
pail went to the office of the Moniteur to insist on the
insertion of his refusal. The editor told him, suavely,
that his paper could not thus insult the noble institu-
tion of the Legion of Honour.
He had scarcely returned to his own office before he
received a courteous letter from the Prefect of the
Seine, saying that he " would have the honour of re-
ceiving Monsieur Raspail as Chevalier of the Legion
of Honour on the following Friday, at midday."
This was dreadful : surely this excess of official gra-
ciousness was degenerating into sarcasm.
i 4 MEMOIRS OF
He was on his way to the Hotel de Ville to inform
the Prefect in person that he would not be thus re-
ceived, when he was met by a congratulatory deputa-
tion of the dames de la halle [market-women], who flung
themselves and a huge bouquet into the arms of the
new Knight of Honour. But even this was not the
worst ; he was destined to drink that dreadful cup to
the dregs ! He, who saw Jesuits everywhere, and de-
spised priests as much as he did the Legion of Honour,
received a charming letter from Bishop Gringoire, Com-
mander of the Order, claiming priority in the honour-
able appointment, on which he congratulated him. A
bishop congratulating Raspail! Surely this was the
acme of sarcasm — it was worse than imprisonment !
But Casimir Perier was not the man, any more than
Raspail, to give way. " Cross or prison," said the Min-
ister. If the chemist would not take the cross, the
artilleryman should be punished. A week later Raspail
was summoned before the examining judge at the Pre-
fecture to explain why he had refused to serve in the
artillery since General Loban had ordered him to patrol
the faubourgs and prevent the assembling of mobs ;
and why he had issued incendiary writings against the
new social order.
It was now, at the beginning of my career as clerk
of the court, that I first knew Raspail. When I saw
him enter the courtroom to undergo examination, I was
struck by the aspect of this vigorous southerner, in
whom a crafty shrewdness vied with ferocious energy.
A clerk of the court is not a mere scrivener, not a
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 15
record-book, nor an automaton whose mechanism the
judge sets going; he is, before all else, an observer. I
soon saw in the accused and in the judge two athletes ;
the former sitting as haughtily on his bench as the
latter in his armchair.
Though they were placed at two ends of the social
ladder, the first seemed to me very capable of tipping
that ladder over and of changing abruptly the position
of the other. It was a war of words between the two
men, in which the wily frankness of the accused fought
the apparent bonhomie of the judge. I admired the
vigorous language, wholly without artifice, of Raspail,
while the judge was doing his best to conceal his
thoughts. Raspail avoided all traps by jumping over
them. Instead of hiding his power and his actions, he
exaggerated them ; and I, who watched the two men,
thought there was as much shrewdness and calculation
in the mind of the accused as in that of the judge.
Each started from an opposite point of view to reach
a different end. The magistrate endeavoured not to
exasperate a man who was dangerous to the Govern-
ment; the other was bent on proving to the defender of
law and order that he was more to be feared than they
thought him. Both were before an altar that neither
believed in — that of an hermaphrodite monarchy;
which the judge would fain have seen legitimist; and
Raspail regarded as a mere step to his republic.
That was the opinion I formed while performing my
duty as clerk, turning my eyes from one to the other
as they spoke, and writing down their words.
16 MEMOIRS OF
When the examination was over — in which Raspail
declared his full responsibility for the articles in the
Tribune, and scornfully blamed the artillery staff that
appealed to the civil law against his actions — the judge
asked if he would sign his declaration.
11 Willingly, monsieur," he replied, casting a glance
over my papers, " very willingly, and with both hands."
Proud of the position in which he had placed the
machine of administration, he was about to leave the
office, when the judge stopped him as he reached the
doorway, by saying, in the tone of a man who has for-
gotten some insignificant matter :
" Ah ! I forgot one circumstance — " The mali-
cious judge made a pause. Raspail looked at him side-
ways^ while the judge looked at nothing at all as he
" Is it not true that because you belong to a secret
society — more secret than the one of which you are
president — you have been obliged to refuse the cross
of the Legion of Honour ? In doing so have you not
obeyed an order of that secret society ? "
" Monsieur," replied Raspail proudly, " I am not here
to answer personal questions, even from an examining
judge. I have signed the declaration you have legally
obliged me to make. I may have compromised myself ;
I will not compromise others. I can be a martyr, but
I will not be a traitor."
So saying he departed, but less proud of himself
than he was a few moments earlier, for it is a fact that
the heads of secret societies do not belong to them-
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 17
selves. In the name of independence they have less lib-
erty than all other men. They are compelled to obey,
outside of legal society, an inflexible command. They
resemble those men who, having broken the bonds of
marriage, become the slaves of jealous and imperious
mistresses. The pressure that secret societies exert upon
their leaders compelled to combat a now superannuated
tyranny, almost excuses a return to reactionary measures.
If there had not been so many uprisings instigated
by those societies (of all parties) during the reign of
Louis-Philippe there would have been no cabinet noir,
of which Raspail and so many others were the daily
prey, and the police under that tolerant reign would
not have been reenforced by so many adversaries of
In 1848, when the Tuileries was pillaged, a part of
the secrets of the cabinet noir were revealed by a mass
of letters : some from Republicans like Raspail, Ledru-
Rollin, and Blanqui ; others from Monarchists like
Prince Talleyrand, who cheated and deceived Louis-
Philippe whom he had made, just as he deceived all the
other sovereigns with whom he dealt. The discovery of
this correspondence proved that the government born
of Liberty did not shrink from domiciliary visits, nor
from corrupting men in various employs, in order to
keep itself posted as to all the revolutionary manoeu-
vres. The cabinet was suppressed in 1848 ; but its sup-
pression was a good deal like that of the Bastille. It
existed no longer in name under the Empire ; but it ex-
isted in fact at the Tuileries, with numberless branches.
iS MEMOIRS OF
The discovery of Louis - Philippe's correspondences
made the world cry out : " Corruption ! " But afterwards
— what came ?
I was not yet twenty-five years old when I was in-
trusted, as I have said, with the functions of clerk of
the court of the Seine. Later, in consequence of an
overthrow of government, I was suddenly appointed to
a place in a Ministry, which retarded, for a time, my
legitimate advancement in my chosen career. I will
presently relate the circumstances of that appointment,
due to two statesmen who acted in my behalf, each
with a different object, but both from self-interest.
Had it depended on me, at this period of my life, I
should have been content to remain simply a clerk of
the court \greffier\. I have had no other ambition than
to follow the inclinations of my mind and faculties,
using them for the good of my country, satisfying my
tastes, and securing the safety of those who depended
on me. A tenacious hunter of the most dangerous and
crafty criminals of the city, my hounding instincts cease
the moment my prey is in the hands of justice. I take
as much pains to lessen the hardships of a scoundrel's
captivity as I took to capture him.
When I began, as recording clerk in a criminal court,
to collate, verify, and correct the reports of the secret
police, that police had little in itself to recommend it.
It still showed the hand of Vidocq ; and his moutons
[spies] who tracked the thieves were scarcely more
honest than the game they hunted. Monsieur Allard
was the first to crush the odious theory that to know
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 19
the ways and means of robbers the police must be half
rascals themselves. Allard, a skilful administrator, re-
formed the staff of the agents of public safety. He
justly thought that to inspire respect and terror in the
enemies of society it was necessary to oppose absolute
honesty to their vices, and irreproachable conduct to
their debauchery. It was Allard who laid the founda-
tion for a decent, scrupulous, and vigilant police admin-
istration, by clearing out, once for all, a band of smirched
men, set to hunt for reprobates whom they resembled.
The numerous plots and attempted outbreaks that
never ceased to trouble the reign of Louis-Philippe
necessitated the creation of a double police — that of
the Prefecture and that of the Chateau [the Tuile-
ries] ; the former becoming secondary to the latter.
General Athalin, whose devotion to the family of the
new King dated back for many years, was the supreme
director of this upper police, which might, at that time,
have been called the royal police. It was to him that
the cabinet noir turned over the compromising letters
and other revelations of the secret societies ; to him that
the Prefecture sent the reports and denunciations con-
cerning political plots.
But if General Athalin found in the Minister of the
Interior, Casimir Perier, and in the Prefecture eager
assistants in frustrating conspirators aiming at the life
of the King, he found a most discouraging opposition
to his faithful efforts in the King himself. Here is an
example of it : A military plot was hatching by the
Bonaparte family to proclaim, on the 5th of May, 1831,
20 MEMOIRS OF
in the Place Vendome, the return of Napoleon II.
Ample information had reached General Athalin that
Prince Louis Bonaparte and his mother, the Duchesse
de Saint-Leu, were coming from Italy to proclaim the
son of the Emperor in presence of the glorious relics
of the Grand Army.
The plot was a serious one. The army, permeated
by carbonaro sentiments, was undoubtedly awaiting the
arrival of the Prince to make some alarming demon-
stration. The clever Duchess, in order to throw Louis-
Philippe off his guard, asked an audience of His Ma-
jesty and permission to cross France, with her son, on
their way from Italy to England. The good-natured
King behaved as if he knew nothing of the Bonapart-
ist proceedings. He welcomed the Duchess favourably,
and even gave her some money, for which she asked,
to enable her to continue her journey. On leaving the
King, she said that her son would have come with her
to the Tuileries, to express his thanks, if he had not
been confined to his bed by illness.
The day after this friendly meeting of the new King
and the ex-Queen of Holland, General Athalin, exas-
perated by the mildness and meekness of his sovereign-
master, summoned a council of Ministers at the palace.
" What is the news, gentlemen ? " said the King, as
he took his seat.
" Very serious news, sire," replied the Minister of
War; " I have positive information, which I cannot
doubt, that the Duchesse de Saint-Leu and her son
have passed through the south of France."
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 21
The King smiled.
" Sire," said Casimir Perier, Minister of the Interior,
11 I can complete the information of his excellency the
Minister of War. Not only did Queen Hortense cross
the south of France, but she is now in Paris, and Your
Majesty received her yesterday."
The King, still smiling, replied :
" You are so well-informed, my dear Minister, that
you leave me no time to tell you anything. The Duch-
esse de Saint-Leu came to see me, as you say, and
presented the excuses of her son, who was confined to
his bed by illness."
" As for that," said the Minister of the Interior in
a grave tone, " Your Majesty need feel no anxiety. At
the hour when Your Majesty received the mother, the
son was in conference with the leaders of the Repub-
lican party to overthrow the monarchy in the name of
Napoleon II. All is ready for the coming revolution if
the Prince and his mother are not immediately arrested."
" Enough, gentlemen," said the King in a masterful
tone of voice. " I have confidence in the good sense of
the public. The plot cannot succeed. Enough has
been said about the King of the French ; let us now
talk of France."
The King, who obstinately refused to pay attention
to the counsels of his Ministers or to the opinions of
the police, was forced, on May 5, to surrender to evi-
dence. The Place Vendome echoed with the seditious
shouts of the soldiers of the First Empire. Several
charges of cavalry were required to break up the begin-
22 MEMOIRS OF
nings of a revolt which, without the precautions taken
by the Minister of War and the Minister of the Inte-
rior, would have reached the proportions of a revolution.
The King contented himself by simply withdrawing the
permission he had given to Queen Hortense. Casimir
Perier was forced to take upon himself the duty of
sending her into exile.
At this period Prince Louis Bonaparte was already
a dangerous conspirator ; he did not leave France for
England until two months after his mother. If the King
had listened to Casimir Perier, he would have sent both
mother and son to a distant prison for the rest of their
days. Had he done so, he would have saved the July
Monarchy from the Strasbourg and Boulogne attempts ;
and the escape from Ham would not, perhaps, have
resulted, as its consequence, in the fall of the most
pacific of kings.
Looking back, I see that, even then, the Bonapartist
party was far stronger than any one at the time sup-
posed. The municipal police was full of its partisans;
and later, the Strasbourg and Boulogne affairs, and the
imprisonment at Ham, gave the Prince a numerous
fanatical following among the lesser bourgeoisie of
Paris. Napoleonic liberalism was getting more and
more grafted into the tree of Republicanism.
But this spirit, which pervaded all classes, started
from the highest. I was able to know this, beyond a
doubt, by the actions of an influential personage, a dep-
uty from my department, who, together with M. Thiers,
helped to strengthen and secure my modest situation.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 23
This personage, whom I shall designate in these Me-
moirs by his initial only, M. de L , was the descend-
ant of a family whose authority and fortune had never
ceased to favour, even under the Directory, the ambi-
tion of Napoleon I. Faithful to his traditions, M. de
L continued, under the Bourbons and the gov-
ernment of Louis-Philippe, to be favourable to the
Bonapartes. He it was who decided M. Thiers to
become the partisan of Louis-Napoleon up to the
eve of the Coup d" Etat, by keeping before his mind the
admiration he had so brilliantly and publicly vowed to
the hero of Brumaire. It was M. de L who, to-
wards the close of Louis-Philippe's reign, detached the
Due de Morny from the July Monarchy, to make him,
what he ultimately became, the strongest column of his
adulterine brother's reign. I, myself, owe it to M. de
L that I passed scatheless through the Napole-
onic epoch, of which I was, in the courts, the sworn
supporter. Thanks to M. de L I became, in my
pursuit of thieves and murderers, a useful and trusted
agent of a government whose principles I did not share.
I must now turn back for a moment and relate the
singular circumstances under which, while still a mere
copying clerk at the Palais de Justice, M. de L
caused me to make the acquaintance of M. Thiers.
In July, 1830, while the fighting was still going on
in Paris, M. de L took me with him to his coun-
try house at Montmorency. His nearest neighbour was
one of the most ardent promoters of the revolution
then in progress — namely, M. Thiers ; who was wait-
24 MEMOIRS OF
ing, with eager impatience, till the smoke of the gun-
powder cleared away from Paris, in order to reappear,
during the last act, in a sort of apotheosis. At Mont-
morency, M. de L was offering prayers for the son
of his emperor; M. Thiers, son of the Revolution, was
offering prayers for himself only.
In Paris at this moment the populace were variously
shouting here and there over the barricades : " Vive
la Republique ! " " Vive Napoleon II I " " Vive Henri
V ! " The revolution over, it profited nothing either to
the Republic, or to Napoleon II, or to Henri V. Con-
stitutional monarchy arose from the plebeian victory !
— another trick of Prince Talleyrand, anxious to avenge
himself on the Restoration, which had refused to re-
cognize the services he had rendered to it under the
M. de L ■, seizing the moment when M. Thiers
was about to become one of the heroes of the time,
hastened to present me to him. He told him that I
was a young man very capable of helping him, both as
secretary and as a man of action. The moment was
well chosen by my protector, always solicitous about
my future. M. Thiers was dying to know what was
going on in Paris, especially in the liberal salons. I
offered to go to Paris and bring an exact account of
what was happening. He accepted my offer eagerly ;
and I, who was only twenty-three years old, plunged
head foremost into the furnace which M. Thiers himself
had lighted by his call to arms in his newspaper, the
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 25
On reaching Paris, I found that, while the fighting
was still going on, the future courtiers of the coming
victory were getting ready, at the hotel Laffitte, in the
rue de Valois, to organize a provisional government.
On receiving this news, M. Thiers — who had been
uncertain whether his little legs would have to run
across the frontier or whether his head might go to
Paris to be crowned king of the barricades — M. Thiers
set off at once for the hotel Laffitte. I accompanied
him, as secretary ; not, however, without being lectured
by M. de L . Pleased as he was to see fortune
smile upon me, he counselled me not to trust too much
in my new master.
" My friend," he said, " don't quit your present posi-
tion to attach yourself exclusively to M. Thiers. That
ambitious man gambles too heavily with fortune ever
to make yours. Limping pupil of Talleyrand, he will
always limp — like his master, who limps in all ways !
This revolution, which Thiers has made with Talleyrand
by cheating him, will cheat himself. Don't belong to
him, because M. Thiers belongs to no one — unless the
rising sun be somebody. As for me, I am for Napoleon
II, because / belong, by tradition and conviction, to
the Empire; but M. Thiers belongs only to himself!"
I was not long in appreciating this severe judgment
on the character of the historian of the " Consulate and
At the hotel Laffitte, where M. Thiers found himself
regarded only as an historian and a journalist, he was
accepted by Talleyrand solely as a writer writing under
26 MEMOIRS OF
dictation — the dictation of the leaders of the army, of
the magistracy, of the bourgeoisie ; and he did actually
draw up, without a draft, an Orleanist proclamation.
M. Thiers, who, three days earlier, had caused a crown
to fall at St. Cloud, was compelled, under the orders of
Talleyrand, to pick it up and carry it from the hotel
Laffitte to the Palais-Royal !
I remained at the hotel Laffitte, as the improvised
secretary of the provisional government, so long as
that government lasted. After the Orleanist proclama-
tion it dissolved ; but not until it had instituted a lieu-
tenant-generalship of the kingdom. From that day I
saw no more of M. Thiers. He who had expected to be
the responsible sovereign of a new Republican govern-
ment, had gone to the Palais-Royal to salute the rising
sun — the coming King, Louis-Philippe.
My duties, as improvised secretary of the provisional
government, had kept me in a little office opening into
the antechamber of the large council-room. Every
morning I received the persons who solicited the fa-
vour of being allowed to speak with the members of
the council, and I wrote down their statements, true
or false, of their services to the national " cause." On
my declaration, signed by the petitioner, the new sov-
ereigns of the government, issuing from the barricades,
accepted or rejected the request of the aspiring cour-
tier. In the one week that I passed in that little office,
I saw defile before me all the celebrated men of the
day; and I must say they seemed to me very small.
They humbled themselves before me because, by a
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 27
stroke of my pen, I could open to them the door of the
temple of fortune, of which I was, in truth, the mere
usher. I soon wearied of this function, in which I con-
tinued only just long enough to satisfy my curiosity to
see and know such men as d'Argoult, Odilon Barrot,
Dupin, Guizot, Casimir Delavigne, etc., etc.; all those
men of the past, diplomats, financiers, artists, and
writers, whom the political storm had thrown down,
and who were all striving now to hook on to the new
ladder raised by a temporizing power.
It was during my fleeting function as clerk and usher
to the provisional government that I met a personage
who afterwards made himself a name in artistic and
literary philanthropy — Baron Taylor. Certainly I lit-
tle expected to see in the antechamber of the hotel
Laffitte the former aide-de-camp of the Due d'An-
gouleme, the equerry of the staff of the Trocadero,
saluting the sun of July and the return of the "three
At this period of his life Baron Taylor (whose title of
nobility was a personal reward conferred upon him
by the fallen monarch) was already in middle life. Tall,
with a vigorous frame, he had the slightly theatrical
movements which characterize a diplomat, a soldier, or
an artist. Abundant hair surrounded his lively, expres-
sive face, lighted by brilliant eyes ; his large jaws and
dilated nostrils expressed, as fully as did his piercing
glance, unquenchable vivacity and great shrewdness,
joined to intense ambition. Though he was very vigor-
ous, his limbs had the ingratiating suppleness that
2 S MEMOIRS OF
marks the courtier by profession. He was obsequious,
and yet he had a lofty air which inspired involuntary
respect. When he gave me his name I bowed; but the
baron bowed lower than his humble servant. A prac-
tised courtier, he knew by experience that there are no
little subalterns for him who seeks to flatter fortune.
When I excused myself for asking the object of his
visit, explaining that my duty required me to transmit
his wishes to the council in writing, he gracefully ac-
quiesced and dictated to me the following words :
" Former aide-de-camp to the Due d'Angouleme ;
designer to His Highness ; on a mission into Egypt
when King Charles X fell under the stroke of the na-
tional demand ; Baron Taylor has returned from the
East, guided by patriotism. While preserving a pla-
tonic gratitude to the fallen monarchy, he feels it his
duty, at a moment when France has so much need of
money, to return and lay upon the altar of the country
the sum that remains to him — namely, one hundred
thousand francs — of the five hundred thousand which
he had received for his artistic and scientific explora-
tions along the banks of the Nile."
Full of admiration for a man who forgot his political
principles and affections to think only of his country
and his duty as a citizen, I hastened to obtain for him
the audience he desired. Eight days later the generous
baron received an acknowledgment of his devotion in
being appointed director of the Theatre-Francais.
Alas ! every medal has its reverse. The then famous
actor Samson, Baron Taylors friend and schoolmate,
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 29
had followed the latter's example in passing promptly
from the Bourbon camp to that of the Orleans. Now
Samson, the great comedian, nurtured in the school of
Moliere, had, like Mile. Mars, a horror of the roman-
ticists. He saw, with repugnance, that under the new
regime the romantic school might invade the temple
sacred to classic art. When, on the accession of the
popular king, it was a question of rewarding the baron's
devotion, Samson and Mile. Mars took counsel together,
and petitioned the new government to make Baron
Taylor, on whose classicism they relied, their future di-
rector. But Taylor, always diplomatic and ever turning
to the side from which blew the wind, opened wide the
sacred doors to the apostles of romanticism — to Victor
Hugo and to Alexandre Dumas fere !
Then, indeed, the new director of the Theatre-Fran-
cais had to bear the savage reproaches of his friend
Samson, who reminded him under what conditions he
and Mile. Mars had petitioned for his appointment.
" My friend," said the baron (who at the Theatre-
Francais was a good deal like King Solomon between
the two mothers), " my friend, I love Moliere dearly,
but I don't detest Shakespeare."
However, the recriminations of Samson and Mile.
Mars, the two oldest comedians of the company, became
so bitter against him that he resigned the directorship,
11 When it rains, I put up my umbrella."
This quarrel between the great comedian and the
baron was only a passing affair, after all. It did not
3 o MONSIEUR CLAUDE
prevent Samson, a man of true devotion, from assisting
his old friend to found the latter's first philanthropic
society, called the " Artists' Association." In all, Baron
Taylor founded five artistic associations in Paris. Hu-
manity should be as grateful to him as it is to Saint-
Vincent de Paul, or to Mirabeau, the friend of man.
As for me, as soon as order was restored, and my
curiosity was satisfied, I made haste to leave the hotel
Laffitte, and resume my functions of clerk at the Palais
de Justice. I quitted the society of politicians for that
of criminals, who share with the former the vices of
humanity, and do not boast of possessing all its virtues.
HOW I BECAME ACQUAINTED WITH
MY FUTURE MASTER
A YEAR had not elapsed since I had resumed
my functions as clerk at the Palais de Justice
before an adventure befel me, which came
near ending in a bloody drama. It led to my knowing,
in the rue aux Feves, the most disreputable quarter of
Paris, a young man who, eighteen years later, stepped
into the place of a sovereign for whose fall he had
plotted and worked for that length of time. The affair,
improbable as it may seem, is none the less true.
One day, on the open square of the Palais de Justice,
which was then used as a place where criminals found
guilty in the assize courts were pilloried, I noticed a
young girl about seventeen years of age standing close
to the scaffold on which three men, condemned to the
galleys, were exposed to the public gaze. The face of
one of them struck me as familiar, but I could not at
the moment place him.
The girl was extremely pretty. Though her clothes
were sordid, her air and manners were those of a sou-
brette of the old regime; and they formed a curious
contrast to the hangdog look of the felons at whom
32 MEMOIRS OF
she was gazing. Suddenly she approached me, but
without coquetry, and asked me to go and see her that
same evening in the rue aux Feves, giving me the
number of the house. Then she ran away like a fawn ;
but, as she did so, I noticed that she exchanged a look
with one of the men bound on the scaffold ; and I also
noticed that the smile she gave him had a certain cruel
and malignant gaiety.
As soon as I entered the Palais, I lost no time in
convincing myself that the house in the rue aux Feves,
which the girl had named to me, was precisely the most
dangerous and suspected house in the city. It was,
in fact, the famous Cabaret du Lapin Blanc, afterwards
made celebrated by Eugene Sue, who undoubtedly knew
the circumstances I am about to relate.
In those days the quarter called specially the Cite,
was the rendezvous of all the evil-doers of Paris. By
that fatality which seems to push unhappy souls tempt-
ed to suicide to the brink of an abyss, so do villains,
thieves, and murderers congregate in the Cite, close
to the very walls of the Palais de Justice. In vain do
the towers of the Palais overlook, like an eternal threat,
this labyrinth of streets where criminals of all kinds
lurk after nightfall. It was in these damp and noisome
regions, where fetid alleys led to filthy stairways, that
a mass of outlaws, human vermin, swarmed ; here the
most monstrous crimes were planned, the heroes of
which were soon arraigned in the courts before they
departed to the galleys, or died upon the scaffold.
I remembered that the wine-shop of the Lapin Blanc
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 33
was the most iniquitous lair in the Cite. Six months
earlier a crime had been committed there ; a man had
been murdered in its cellars, and one of the three
men pilloried that morning, an old fagot (to use a term
of the galleys), was one of the murderers. The singular
look the young girl had cast at the man after appoint-
ing me to meet her at that very Lapin Blanc, came
into my mind, and I shuddered. Some months earlier
I had gone to that wine-shop, with the examining
judge of my section, to make a report on the frequenters
of that cut-throat den, in consequence of a mysterious
murder which had there been committed, but for which
the guilty man could not be convicted for want of
I own that these recollections, coming to me on the
discovery that the address given me was that of this
villainous lair, warned me of danger. But I was young
and very ardent in my work, and without further
reflection I went, at ten o'clock that evening, to the
police station in the rue de Jerusalem. There I told the
officer in charge that I was going to the Lapin Blanc,
to study the locality; and I asked him to put a certain
number of policemen at my disposal, who, the moment
I blew my whistle, were to make a general raid upon
Secure in these precautions, and armed with my
whistle, I made my way to the rue aux Feves. It was
a singular street, forming a horseshoe in the centre of
the Cite. The upper floors of its dilapidated buildings,
supported on mouldy pillars, overhung the shops on
34 MEMOIRS OF
the ground floor. The iron-barred windows that did not
belong to the wine-shops, to the houses of prostitutes,
and receivers of stolen goods, were never lighted at
night ; so much did their inhabitants dread the popu-
lation around them.
The Lapin Blanc was at the centre of the rue aux
Feves. It was the tavern of the past-masters of theft
and crime. A large, low room, its ceiling striped with
black and smoky rafters, held six tables, fastened to the
whitewashed walls. The tables formed in line before
a counter, or bar, covered with zinc and bristling with
jugs bound with iron. These jugs were chained to the
counter; the tables and benches were chained to the
The room opened upon an alley, through a door
lighted by a cracked lantern, on which was printed
in red letters, " Night lodgings here." At this period,
when a thief had " made a stroke," when his pocket
" snored," all his particular band rendezvoused at the
Lapin Blanc, to eat and drink and make merry on the
proceeds of the "swag." If, in the interval, he was
"nabbed," never did the band "peach" upon him. In
vain had the police tried to make the master of the
establishment open his lips; never had they got even
a stray word from him. He was, in fact, a free mason of
the haute pegre [the upper class of experienced thieves ;
they never commit small thefts, and call those who do
so, pegriots\ When the police endeavoured to make
him talk, " he rowed a boat " ; which means, in their
parlance, he led them from lie to lie.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 35
I had proof of this in the case I have mentioned —
a murder in the cellars of the Lapin Blanc. The police
had captured the murderer, but they could not find the
body of the murdered man. I went the next day, with
the commissary of police and the examining judge, all
through these cellars, which were really a long subter-
ranean passage leading down to the city sewers. I
now remembered having stated in my proces-verbal
that I thought a body might be lost in these cellars
by being forced into the sewer and carried to the
When, on the evening I am now relating, I entered
the room of the Lapin Blanc y I saw, standing at the
counter, a man wearing an otter-skin cap, the visor of
which concealed his face. He stood erect, with his
hands resting on a jug. His attitude looked to me
I advanced without shutting the door behind me.
At a table on the right were two fellows playing cards.
They seemed absorbed in the game, but I noticed that
under the table they held two long knives. Did they
doubt each other ? Were they both prepared to draw
the blood of the first who cheated to the other's injury ?
At this moment the girl I had seen in the morning
came from the end of the room and placed herself at
the counter beside the man with the cap. Pointing her
finger at me, she screamed out :
" There 's the villain I lured this morning at the
scaffold. Father," she added, her mouth quivering,
her eyes sparkling, " we must wash his linen in the
36 MEMOIRS OF
bloody . Quick, you fellows, and as soon as he is
chilled take him to the cellar he knows so well ! "
I had scarcely time to spring to the door, which I had
left half open, before the two men at cards had seized
their knives and were bounding towards me. I felt for
my whistle to call the police, who were waiting at each
crossing of the rue aux Feves.
Horrors ! I could not find it — it was gone — I was
I felt the steel of one of the murderers, while the
other seized me round the body and caught my hands
to deliver me helpless to the assassin. In vain I strug-
gled against his muscular strength. His arms were
iron. An instant more, and the knife of his companion
would have cut my throat, when the noise of many
steps echoed in the alley.
Terrified at the imminence of the danger, I had
closed my eyes that I might not see the gestures of the
father and the fury who were commanding my execu-
tioners. I thought I was dead, when a cluster of men
came around me, and I heard a well-known voice say
over my shoulder :
" Enough, enough, Nina-Fleurette ! enough of this
nonsense ! Let my friend Claude alone ! If you carry
the thing too far, to teach him not to be inquisitive,
I, and others, will punish you."
As if by enchantment the arms of the murderers
fell from me, and the furious gestures of the master
of the place and his daughter threatened me no longer.
I was free ! But — inconceivable sight ! — I saw before
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 37
me, whom ? M. de L , my protector, whose presence
at the Lapin Blanc was as inexplicable as the sudden
change in my favour produced by him. He wore the
short linen blouse of a workman, as did a young man
who accompanied him ; the rest of their clothes were
shabby. The young man appeared to be, like himself,
a man of society in disguise.
The singular face of the latter struck me. Though
somewhat disagreeable, the expression of the eyes was
extraordinarily gentle; their sparkling pupils seemed
bathed in a magnetic fluid that fascinated all they gazed
upon. I noticed that Nina-Fleurette had turned pale ;
then, shaking herself, she was transformed from a fury
into a smiling bacchante under the glance of the young
man, which never for a moment left her.
In spite of the danger I had just escaped, the presence
of this personage in that cut-throat place, as inexplicable
as that of M. de L , perplexed me. I myself could
not escape the fascination of that young man whose
impassible face, with its almost grotesque features, ex-
ercised through its eyes so extraordinary a power. This
man, — I divined him at a first glance, — placed on the
lowest rung of the social ladder, might be the most
dangerous of villains ; on the highest, he might become
the envied rival of the great. He was born to subdue,
or to perish. Short-legged, with a long waist, he was
framed like those great birds which are all body sup-
ported by webbed feet. He waddled as he walked, like
a vulture. There was a mixture in this young man of
the crafty bandit and the gentleman bandit. His coun-
38 MEMOIRS OF
tenance, almost burlesque, yet attractive, was not out
of keeping with the corrupt faces around him, which
it mastered while harmonizing with them.
While I was examining this curious companion of M.
de L , the cortege of scoundrels who had entered
with them took their places at the tables. Nina-Fleur-
ette, indifferent now to vengeance, flung herself on the
neck of the young man, who left M. de L to em-
brace her. As for me, I was forgotten. All my instincts
as a policeman were aroused, and I had even lost con-
sciousness, in presence of this inexplicable scene, of the
horrible danger I had just escaped. But I was not left
long under the impressions of the strange scene before
me. M. de L came to my side, and said, in a low
" Go away now, and come to me to-morrow morning
in my little house at Passy. You shall then know how
I had the luck to save you ; and you shall also know
about that young man who accompanies me."
I went away, but before I went I discovered that not
only my whistle, but my watch and my purse had dis-
appeared ! As I reached one of the ends of the rue aux
Feves I saw the three-cornered hats of the policemen
who were still awaiting my signal. In the interests of
M. de L , I passed on without speaking to them.
The next morning I was punctual to my appoint-
ment at Passy. I had hardly entered the room when
M. de L came to me with a furious air, exclaiming :
" Ha ! a pretty business you did yesterday ! After
incurring the vengeance of the Prince's mistress, Nina,
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 39
you must needs have the Prince arrested at the corner
of the rue aux Feves, and he is now in Sainte-Pelagie !
If I, too, am not in prison, it is no thanks to you ; I es-
caped your hounds because your Prefect is afraid of
I was confounded. I suppose I stood with my mouth
open and my eyes staring, for M. de L 's wrath
suddenly changed into loud hilarity.
" True, true," he said, " of course you know nothing
about it ; you are only a clerk ; but your office must
have known all about it. Well, let me tell you that the
young man whom I accompanied last night is Prince
Louis Bonaparte, son of Queen Hortense, on a mission
to the dangerous classes of the Cite. The King thinks
him ill in bed ; or did think so some time ago, when
the Prince summoned all the old remnants of the Grand
Army to the Place Vendome."
At the name of Prince Louis I uttered an exclama-
tion of surprise, and I asked by what combination of
circumstances they had managed to save my life by
exercising power over men so outside of their social
11 A prince," replied M. de L , " ought to know
everything and everybody. You are aware that, after
Napoleon II, Prince Louis is the one whom our Em-
peror appointed to succeed him. Now Prince Louis
is deeply interested in the question of pauperism, and
he studies it among the most abject classes before he
is called upon to solve it. That is why you saw him at
the Lapin Blanc. It is there that he bestows his alms
4 o MEMOIRS OF
on the disinherited ; whom a selfish society sends to
the galleys, but whom the Napoleons, once in power,
will reinstate, by less barbarous laws, in that society of
which they are now the pariahs."
I did not venture to reply to M. de L , though
I had a mind to say that Prince Louis's charity, given,
in the interests of his dynasty, to galley-slaves, was
likewise bestowed on pretty girls, who were also crim-
inals. But I held my tongue, lest I should irritate my
friend and protector.
Nevertheless, I did say (by way of excusing myself)
that if the Prince had been arrested by my policemen
it was not so much because of his philanthropy, but
because he was conspiring against the government, and
I added that, so far as I was concerned, my department
was not responsible for conspirators.
" You are right, my friend," replied M. de L ,
now quite softened; "after all, though the Prince is in
prison, he has nothing to fear. They will let him out,
without a flourish of trumpets, in spite of Casimir
Perier, who is always against us. On our side we have
your Prefect and General Lafayette. If the King dares
to keep the Prince in prison, we shall act on Lafayette.
If that timid individual, who, out of love for popular-
ity, plumes himself on being the * soldier of Liberty,'
goes back on us, we shall compromise him — we have
the means. Now, my dear Claude, I warn you, when-
ever you find a Napoleonist, male or female, in your
path, shut your eyes, and don't open them on any but
your thieves. Remember that a Napoleonist saved you
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 41
from the vengeance of men who had sworn your death.
I left him, convinced that the Bonapartist party was
far more powerful than was generally supposed, in-
asmuch as it had ramifications from the very lowest
classes of society to the most respected and respectable
man in France, General Lafayette. I myself was a liv-
ing example of the mysterious authority exercised in
the dark by that party.
At this period, that is to say, a few days after May
5, 1 83 1, and the revolt in the Place Vendome, Prince
Louis made his first appearance in prison at the same
time as Raspail [physiologist, chemist, and revolution-
ist, president of the Societe des Amis du Peuple], I
transcribe a passage from one of Raspail's letters, written
from Sainte-Pelagie, in which he describes his prison
companion Prince Louis:
" The Prince is not yet a general ; he is two grades
short of it, but he has something better ; he has in his
veins a few drops of the blood of Napoleon the Great.
The authenticity of his origin is in his make. Napoleon
had not a nail more to his boots than this young man.
He wears the amulet of the great captain and his gray
overcoat, adopted in 1804 and worn till 18 14. He edits
a republican newspaper, the name of which conflicts
with imperial pretensions — 'The Revolution.' Do the
funds for this newspaper come from the Napoleons ? or
from the Prefecture of Police ? The last hypothesis is
admissible, though singular; for the management of that
newspaper, ' The Revolution,' is a stepping-stone by
42 MEMOIRS OF
which to attain the honours of the police. Issuing from
its offices, the bookkeeper may become officer of the
peace, head of the section, commissary of police, in-
spector of the markets, etc. As for the furnisher of the
funds, his profit is in the situations he obtains for others ;
while the debtor, in his quality as prince, lives — en
prince — in a separate pavilion that communicates with
the palace court.
" The illustrious prisoner now with us grants audi-
ences ; the jailers are his chamberlains. In the evening,
after dark, the air resounds with military music, made
by his partisans, who give him a serenade. When he
deigns to take a walk in the courtyard his staff, which
followed him into captivity, falls into line at his ap-
proach, in the attitude of soldiers without arms, salut-
ing with their hands at their shakos.
" The examination of his case will not take place as
yet; a Pretender is not treated like the small fry, of
which I am one."
Raspail was mistaken in one statement : the criminal
examination into the Bonapartist conspiracy was stopped
before it began. They discovered, as M. de L had
given me to understand, the relations of General La-
fayette with the son of Queen Hortense. The General
was, in fact, compromised by letting his support be
expected by this conspiracy, plotted in the interest of
Napoleon II. They also discovered that Prince Louis
and his mother, on their way from Italy through France,
had everywhere sown a leaven of discord which the
Carbonari were stirring up. They found that at Lyons,
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 43
Grenoble, and Lille, revolts were to break out simul-
taneously with one in Paris ; that the garrisons were
partly won over; and that a certain number of the
members of both Chambers were prepared to put
themselves under Lafayette, to form, provisionally, the
nucleus of a national Napoleonic Chamber.
Had it not been for the energy of Casimir Perier,
who, in spite of Louis-Philippe, cut the evil at its roots ;
and had it not been for the mere chance that placed
policemen on the track of that Wandering Jew of
plots, this Napoleonic outbreak would have had an-
other conclusion than that of the 5th of May.
But Louis-Philippe, worthy man, could not endure
that any suspicion should arise that he was not the
" Citizen-King," the sovereign chosen by the popular
voice. He hastened, therefore, to smother the whole
affair. He opened, without a sound, the gates of Sainte-
Pelagie, and Prince Louis joined his mother in Lon-
don to renew his plots.
This adventure of the Prince in the Cite was known
to others besides myself. The lair of the Lapin-Blanc,
the scene of that adventure, must also have been known
to Eugene Sue, whose father, formerly surgeon-physi-
cian of Napoleon I, had retained, like M. de L ,
very close relations with the Bonaparte family. For my
part, I have always felt convinced that Prince Louis
was the original of Prince Rodolphe, the hero of the
My s feres de Paris.
THE END OF A REIGN AND ITS
I REMAINED for eighteen years at the Palais de
Justice, as clerk of the criminal courts of the Seine.
I owed this long period in one grade as much to
my lack of ambition as to the zeal which I put into
a function more useful than brilliant. A good clerk is
a very precious assistant for a judge. The proces-verbal
[written minutes of all the facts and proceedings of
a case] which he draws up of the statements of the
accused, of the testimony (more or less conclusive) of
the commissaries of police, is the fundamental basis of
a magistrate's judgement. Often they have done me
the justice to say that m.y proces verbaux, without par-
tiality, without acrimony, were elucidated with a clear-
ness that lessened the delicate and difficult labour of
It was to this slender merit, developed by long ex-
perience, that I owed the distinction of being almost
the dean of the clerks of the Palais de Justice. It was
not until 1848, shortly before the revolution that led to
the fall of Louis-Philippe, that I succeeded in becom-
ing a commissary of police. After that time I was
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 45
commissary at Meaux, commissary at Passy, commis-
sary at Batignolles, and commissary at Menilmontant,
attached to the section of the theatres ; after that I was
commissary at the markets ; then commissary of the
judiciary delegations, before becoming, under the Em-
pire, chief of police [chef de la police de suret'e generale~\
in that very Palais de Justice from which I had issued
a simple clerk. Of this last situation I had an unusu-
ally long lease, because France, under the Empire, had
eighteen years of respite ; and during those years all
functionaries could live under the laws without burden-
ing the employes of a regime that was, nevertheless,
autocratic. It is, above all, in my post as chief of the
secret police (which began in June, 1859) that I shall
be able to show myself in my true light — a Gil Bias,
with a good-natured turn of mind and a benevolent
countenance, a man of indefatigable action under a
It is true that by nature I possess a bodily slowness,
which may perhaps deceive even the most perspicacious
persons. On the other hand, I have a flair, which, in
spite of my temperament, excites my energy and has
rarely deceived me in my hunts for men. A thief or
a murderer, whom the Prefecture points out to me,
becomes a prey of which I sometimes instantly divine
the trail ; the faintest indication of his passage endows
me often with a species of " second-sight." I do not
wish to make a parade of my merits ; but if, from the
faintest indication, the most insignificant fact, I have
often established a whole world of proofs and revela-
46 MEMOIRS OF
tions, I owe such merits to a natural gift, a wholly
special organization. I was born a policeman as a
greyhound is born to course. I can no more explain
what put me on the trail of Tropmann than we can
explain the jffair of the hounds for a wild animal. Once
at work, I did not possess myself or my object ; my
object possessed me. It was not till my work was
accomplished, no matter what period of time it took,
that I felt fatigue and exhaustion. Once back in or-
dinary life my ardour was at an end ; I forgot it ;
I became once more a rather benignant being, whose
only desire was to rest and talk of other things than
the cares of his profession.
As clerk of the court, I wrote down very many of the
causes celebres of Louis-Philippe's time, which I shall
not quote here because I was, after all, only their steno-
grapher. Looking back, I see plainly that the begin-
ning and the end of the reign of the Citizen-King
resembled in many of its facts the beginning and the
end of the reign of Napoleon III. Revolts signalized
the first years of the juste milieu ; a great crime assisted
in bringing about its end — a clap of thunder, a stroke
of lightning overturned two thrones. The crime of the
Due de Choiseul-Praslin was a warning of the fall of
Louis-Philippe ; and the crime of Tropmann was
equally a warning of the fall of Napoleon III.
When the revolution of 1848 broke out, many of the
men then raised to power I had known in the criminal
courts when taking their depositions, and making out
their proces verbaux. In spite of my aversion to politics
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 47
my career was very nearly ruined in 1848 by the ran-
cour of the Republicans, who could not forgive me for
having done my duty under the monarchy they had
just overthrown. If I renewed, not very long after,
my career at the point where, as I shall presently show,
I was forced to leave it in 1848, I owe it to my con-
stant protector, M. de L , who rose to a pinnacle
of power as soon as the Napoleonic aurora dawned
for his prince.
Yet that which made my fortune shortly after 1848
nearly cost me my life when I became, under the Com-
mune, a prisoner in the hands of the enemies of the
Empire. At the beginning of the latter reign I was
taxed with Orleanism, and under the Commune I
came near being shot because I was tainted with
From Paris to Japan, from Japan to Rome, the most
idiotic situation for a French citizen is that of being
a public functionary. Though our administration is one
of the fine triumphs that Europe envies, it does not
guarantee to protect the future of the greatest or the
humblest of its representatives. I had hardly been
two months commissary of police at Passy when the
revolution of 1848 broke out. I, who had accepted
this post and this retreat in what was then a tranquil
village, hoping that after nearly twenty years of toil in
the criminal courts I might win my last spurs as a civil
officer, was brutally forced from my position. Because
I belonged to the administrative hierarchy of a govern-
ment, the adversaries of which had no conception that
48 MEMOIRS OF
its end was so near, my career was destroyed ! I was
cast out by a society I had loyally served in the duties
it had placed upon me, solely because a fatal hour had
struck for its monarch. I was condemned because
Providence had stamped with reprobation a crowned
family which up to that hour had considered itself
under divine protection.
Yet it was easy to foresee in 1847 tnat a terrible
moment was approaching for the omnipotent bourgeois
class. If I had not lived in a world of criminals, which
prevented me from watching the abnormal movements
of society under Louis-Philippe, I should have fore-
seen the social convulsion that now swept me off
Since the death of his sister, the Princess Adelaide,
the King, deprived of his Egeria, was but the shadow
of himself. The terrible warning given to him by the
death of his eldest son was renewed and deepened by
the death of his lifelong adviser and support. Isolated
on his throne, surrounded by ambitious men whose
interest it was to make it totter, Louis-Philippe felt
the danger that came from " the street" and the " fau-
bourgs," without finding in the aristocratic and finan-
cial salons (who were secretly conspiring with "the
street ") the safety he implored.
France had reached the crucial movement that par-
ties seem regularly to produce every eighteen years,
a period when all appears to waver, to undergo a mys-
terious change in the physical as well as in the moral
order; when the seasons themselves bring misery to
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 49
the poor — that weapon which ambitious men, seeking
social upheaval, are so quick to use.
Misery below, corruption above, the shameful crime
of the deputy Martin, the frightful crime of the Due de
Choiseul-Praslin, crime everywhere, even upon the
steps of the throne, warned the reign of Louis-Philippe
in 1847 tnat it was approaching a catastrophe. Thrones
and crowns are ever shattered by the same thunder-
bolts; they disappear in the same convulsions that
gave birth to them. The scandals that marked the end
of Louis-Philippe's reign were, like the murder of Vic-
tor Noir and the slaughters of Tropmann, the same
thunder-claps that gave warning of the destruction of
It is within the bosom of balancing powers that dis-
cords are produced which excite the defeated to obtain
triumphs that may, at the time, avenge public opinion,
but do not secure and strengthen society. The crime
of the Due de Praslin is an example of this. Its con-
sequences, while giving to the country an apparent proof
of the respect of the government for the great princi-
ple of equality which gave it birth and on which it
rested, led, nevertheless, to the overthrow of that gov-
This abominable crime proved that disregard of duty
at the summit of society results in destroying the force
and the prestige of the grandeur of that society, —
although it must be said that it brought into high
relief the sublime virtues of the illustrious victim,
the daughter of Marechal Sebastiani, the Duchesse
50 MEMOIRS OF
de Choiseul-Praslin, wife of the chamberlain of the
I was still a clerk at the Prefecture when the mur-
der of the duchess shed horror throughout Paris,
mourning into the King's palace, and roused implacable
hatreds that were slumbering in the mind of parties. A
peer of France the murderer of his wife! What a piece
of luck for the Opposition ! and for the journalists of
the Reforme, the Corsaire, and the National. The
avengers of the massacres of the rue Transnonain and
of Lyons could never have hoped for such a scandal
to unite with their political animosities the partisans of
the Republic, the sore-heads at Ghent, and all the
other malcontents, who, for eighteen years, had been
paying with their liberty in Sainte-Pelagie for the right
of protesting against an order of things that was
neither legitimate monarchy nor republicanism !
The crime itself, which dishonoured the peerage, was
horrible. When we were summoned, on the morning
of August 1 8, 1847, to the hotel Sebastiani in the
faubourg Saint-Honore, for a first inquest on the mu-
tilated body of the Duchesse de Praslin, the commis-
saries of police, aided by physicians, had no difficulty
in proving that a long and bloody struggle had taken
place between the Duke and his unhappy wife. Like
the vulgarest of common murderers, he had entered
his wife's room to kill her while she was asleep. She
must have sprung from her bed, for she was stabbed
by a dagger about the head, on the wrists, and in the
back. The fingers of her hands were cut through
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 51
in her helpless efforts to ward off the murderers
The disorder of the room, and furniture stained
with blood, left no doubt whatever as to the frightful
struggle that must have taken place between the hap-
less victim and her murderer, who was placed under
surveillance until proper steps could be taken for the
arrest of a peer of France.
But what inflamed public opinion still further took
place three days later, when the Duke, issuing from one
of the first families of France, the murderer of his wife
from infatuation for a governess, was enabled by royal
condescension to escape the doom that awaited him.
Those who had expected to see him die upon the scaf-
fold were outraged when the Duke, judged by his peers
(another grievance to the enemies of the throne), was
brought in a dying condition before their bar. At the
moment when the presiding peer urged the guilty man
to make a full confession he fell unconscious. The
physicians declared that he was poisoned, and he died
that evening in prison.
The chemical analysis of Orfila showed the presence
of arsenic in the Duke's body. But the conclusions of
that great chemist (as shown in the case of Mme. La-
farge) were rather elastic. It was certainly strange
that the Duke's death was speedy, while that of
M. Lafarge was slow from the same poison. Raspail,
the political and scientific enemy of Orfila, did not
fail to call attention to this inconsistency of the
52 MEMOIRS OF
In vain did the Chamber of Peers say in its report
(drawn up in secret session) that the Due de Praslin
had judged and condemned himself; the newspapers
did not hesitate to say that it was not thus such a villain
should have ended ; and that if the examination begun
by the ordinary judges had not been purposely trans-
ferred to the Court of Peers, the murderer would not
have escaped legal justice. Some papers went much
farther, and asserted that the Due de Praslin was not
dead, but had been sent to England by the authorities.
Long afterwards, persons declared that they had seen
him in England and in Switzerland. The rumour was
current from the day of his trial, and a large force of
police was required to keep back the crowd around the
hearse, who threatened to break open the coffin, which
the populace declared contained no body.
This ferment of the Parisian population gave warn-
ing that a crisis was approaching. From that day the
Societe des Droits de V Homme [of the Rights of Man]
re-formed its sections. They enveloped Paris in a secret
net. Clement Thomas, a former sub-officer of the cuiras-
siers, was appointed to drill their troops, the citizens
Baune, Charassin, Jules Favre, Charles Lagrange, shared
with Clement Thomas the management of these sec-
tions of the "Rights of Man." The National, edited
by Armand Marrast, the Reforme, edited by Ledru-
Rollin, never ceased, under orders from the secret
revolutionary committees, to wave, like a threat, the
bloody robe of the victim of a peer of France. They
printed her letters to the Duke (produced at the brief
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 53
trial) in a cheap pamphlet, which was sold about the
streets for a few sous.
When M. Thiers, jealous of M. Guizot, when La-
martine, with his " Girondins," caused the revolt which
was provoked by the banquets in honour of electoral
reform, it was Armand Marrast, Ledru-Rollin, and
their former soldiers of 1830, who turned that revolt
into a revolution — which amazed and dumbfounded
the very men who had prepared it, namely : Thiers and
The bourgeoisie, as much fooled as their ambitious
leaders, looked about them for a haven into which
they might escape from a turbulent and bloody sea.
Then it was that Prince Louis Bonaparte came from
London to support the men in power, whom he pre-
sently fooled in their turn, as they had fooled Thiers
and Odilon Barrot, Lamartine and Cavaignac ! Perjury
and baited traps gave France a short period of repose.
But she paid dearly for it.
These reflections would be presumptuous from the
pen of a simple police officer if I had not been called
upon by my official duty to follow the actions of the
secret societies, whose reports and bulletins came daily
to the Prefecture of Police, thanks to its secret agent, the
too-celebrated Lucien de La Hode. Until, and through,
the year 1848, the press of the " Rights of Man," which
printed those reports and bulletins, delivered them
secretly to the police, by the hands of its " secretary,"
Lucien de La Hode, before sending them to its adher-
54 MEMOIRS OF
From its outset, the Republic considered my past
services a crime, because (as I may show later) the
magistracy had caused me to strike, under Louis-
Philippe, guilty men, who, under the new Republic,
became heroes. Yet it was to the revolution of Febru-
ary that I owe a new existence which I did not solicit,
and a doubtful celebrity which I never sought. Had it
not been for that revolution which turned me out of
my post as commissary, I should not have been the
vigilant sleuth-hound of the greatest criminals of the
Second Empire; I should never have mingled in its
dramas; of the mysteries of which the assize courts
allowed but a small portion to transpire.
Two days after the proclamation of the Republic,
February 27, 1848, the citizen D entered my office.
In the name of the Republic and of the new Prefect
of police, he presented me with an order from the
" citizen Caussidiere," the Prefect, to give up my post
within twenty-four hours to the bearer of the order.
The order was formal and regular, and it was counter-
signed by a member of the new government. I bowed
before its decree. My successor instantly planted him-
self in my office without allowing me to remove my
belongings, because, he said, the furniture was the
property of the Administration. Before leaving, well-
nigh as naked as a little Saint-John, I asked my suc-
cessor to employ my secretary, whose plight, poor
fellow, was even worse than mine.
" No," replied the savage D , "we mean to make
a clean sweep; we want nothing left of the tyrant."
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 55
" Except the furniture," I remarked as I departed.
Thus I was cast out of an administration I had loy-
ally served solely because the head of the government
had fallen. There are moments in life, for individuals
as well as for societies, when all is decadence and ruin ;
when the safest precautions of human wisdom give
way beneath us like the foundations of a house. It was
at the moment when, after nearly twenty years of faith-
ful work, I hoped and expected to end my career hon-
ourably at Passy, that this cataclysm, to which I was
a total stranger, befel me. When I found myself thus
brutally cast out, as it were, upon the pavement, I felt
as bewildered as I was despairing. I had a family. On
the morrow my family would be without a home and
My situation was desperate ; to whom could I turn ?
where could I go ? M. Delessert, my Prefect, was either
in hiding or had fled ; to appeal to his successor, citizen
Caussidiere, was putting myself into the jaws of the
wolf. After mature deliberation, a thought came to
me, which ought to have come and would have come
to me at once if I had not been so confused by the
way in which citizen D had driven me from my
office and seized my place and my furniture. I went to
my protector, M. de L .
I found him as gay and exultant as I was sad and
" At last ! " he cried, flinging himself into my arms ;
" at last, my dear Claude, we have done with that reign
of corruption. Louis-Philippe is down for ever, with
56 MEMOIRS OF
his Guizot — a hermaphrodite royalist, like all those
Orleans ! Well, it is over ! This time it did not take
long to do, for the tree was rotten — rotten to the
core ! "
I looked at M. de L in consternation; and I
could not help saying to him, like Caesar, —
Then, looking at him a little closer, I saw that his
clothes were sordid, and that he, so dainty in his hab-
its, had a dirty face, and hands still dirtier.
"How? what?" I asked, "do you belong to the
revolution? are you conspiring?"
" Why, of course," he exclaimed, shrugging his
shoulders; "and if you never guessed it when I
roamed the streets of Paris in quest of adventures, it
is because I pulled the wool over your eyes."
" Ah ! " I exclaimed reproachfully ; " you exposed me
" Not at all, my dear Claude," he answered joyously;
" don't you remember that I told you a few months ago
that the government could n't last six months ? As I
said it I was thinking of a place for you, in the future,
far better than the one you [had under a bastard gov-
ernment, as stingy of favours as it was lavish of promises."
" Well, then," I said, promptly, " call up that future
" Oh ! " he said, laughing, " you are in too great a
hurry. Let us get rid of the Republic first, just as we
have now got rid of the monarchy."
" Hunger cannot wait," I said hastily.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 57
M. de L became serious, and asked me to
explain my words.
I related the way in which I had been turned out of
my office at Passy by citizen D .
" Bravo ! " he cried, clapping his hands. " Bravo !
those Republicans are piling up a morrow of terrible
hatreds. Bravo ! "he exclaimed again, " you, commissary,
dismissed by the Republic, in future you are one of us !
You know very well that France, which has just pulled
down a king, will never set him up again ; hence the
Prince must reign ; he will be carried to the throne
on the bucklers of the malcontents. You are one of us,
I tell you, for you have the past and the present against
you. You have no longer any choice. You belong to
us — that is to say, you belong to the Prince, who, from
this day forth becomes the safety, the fortune, the
future of France ! "
" No," I objected, " I belong to the fallen monarchy
from duty and from gratitude."
" And from duty, from gratitude, do you mean to let
yourself die of hunger, you and your family ? It is not
for that that I have watched over your career. I have
studied you. Before long, I shall be able to utilize your
capacities, as an imbecile administration, which could
not comprehend you, has never done."
" You are very kind," I said ; " but if until then I have
no bread to feed my family, what can I do and what
can you do with my capacities ? "
" Do you suppose," he said, " that I have not thought
of that, now that you have owned to me your distress ?
5 8 MEMOIRS OF
Do you think that I have no memory and no grati-
tude ? Am I likely to forget how you saved my life, and
that of Mme. X , from those wretches at the Tro-
cadero ? Until the prospects of my Prince are secure,
through the follies of these Republicans, you will live
in my house and dine with me, you and your family." "
" Pardon me," I replied, with emotions of gratitude
and dignity struggling within me, " I cannot accept
services I cannot return."
" How do you know ? Do you prefer to die for the
Republic which does n't want you ? That is too silly.
Let yourself be managed now, and later you will have
only to choose the place you desire to fill. If you wish to
pay your debt to me at once, I '11 offer you the means."
" How ? "
" By becoming my secretary."
" Become the secretary of a conspirator ! I, a com-
missary of police ! "
" How foolish you are ! " he exclaimed. " Am I a con-
spirator now that the government against which I acted
no longer exists ? Am I not, in my role of revolution-
ist, a good, pure, true democrat ? By employing you,
I, ' one of the pure/ do you a service — I whitewash
1 Mme. X was a woman of society, as much concerned for the
interests of the Prince as M. de L — — . She was one of his most trusted
spies. With M. de L , she was inveigled into a house near the Tro-
cadero, where they were robbed, and would have been murdered if
M. Claude had not received notice of their whereabouts. The Trocadero
being in the Passy Precinct, he came, with the police of his post, in time
to rescue them.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 59
" Ah ! " I said, doubtfully; " you may whitewash me
in public opinion, but I shall blacken myself in my
own eyes, inasmuch as you have just owned to me that
the Republic is only a bridge to cross to the Empire."
" What next ! " cried M. de L angrily. " O,
these honest men ! " he added, walking excitedly up
and down. " They are full of such absurd scruples !
They want to make society in their own image ; as if
a corrupt society like ours does n't require to be tricked.
Well, well, I won't employ you in my correspondence
with the Prince ; I will utilize you, till I get you an em-
ployment worthy of you, on my other correspondence ;
and I '11 warrant that will give you, rabid Cato that
you are, a rough job."
I accepted the provisional function because I could
not refuse it under pain of starving to death. Thus it
was that I suffered the fatal consequences of the fall of
a monarchy which could no longer feed me. I became,
under the guidance of the friend of Prince Louis Bona-
parte, and in spite of myself, an agent of the Napoleonic
During my stay in M. de L 's house, I made
many interesting acquaintances, for he was much sought
by persons of all classes — of rank, of letters, of science,
etc. It was there that I knew the great toxicologist,
Orfila (born on the island of Minorca in 1787). I often
accompanied M. de L to his house, hotel du Bar-
rail, where he received, every Saturday, the elite of
intellect and art, and the celebrities of the Operas,
together with musical composers then in vogue. From
60 MEMOIRS OF
M. Orfila I heard on what a thread the condemnations
of Mme. Lafarge had hung.
" If Raspail, my antagonist," he said, " had reached
Tulle twenty-four hours earlier, Mme. Lafarge would
have been saved."
" Why ? " I asked ; " were you not sure of your ana-
lysis ? "
" Yes, I was," he replied, " but science played a sec-
ondary part in that trial, the conclusions of which were
inspired by the very worst passions. The bourgeoisie of
Tulle made it a town affair. They first turned wholly
to the side of the mother-in-law. As soon as I made
known my analysis the population divided in opinion.
If Raspail, the adversary of official science and of the
government, had arrived in time to combat me, he
would have been the leader of public opinion ; he would
have saved Mme. Lafarge. But he came after the ver-
dict was rendered. The court could not reverse its
judgement, nor seem to yield to a rebellious citizen and
savant. His tardy evidence only did harm to Mme.
" Then do you deny that poison was administered by
Mme. Lafarge ? "
" I do not deny the poison, for my report proved its
existence ; but I still doubt who was the person who
" Then what caused the court to be so severe upon
Mme. Lafarge ? "
" Politics," he replied. " Between me, Orfila, Presi-
dent of the Council of Chemistry, and Raspail, its
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 61
opponent, Mme. Lafarge was between hammer and
anvil, and she was crushed! Even if a revolution
should release her, she will come out mutilated and
Twelve years after her condemnation, during the
revolution of 1848, Mme. Lafarge was transferred from
her prison to a hospital. In 1852 she was pardoned by
Louis Napoleon and set at liberty; but Orfila was
right: she died the same year at the baths of Ussat.
When Orfila died (in 1853) he left a will enjoining
on his wife to keep, during her life, an open table
every Saturday for all the artists in Paris who had
been his guests and comrades. Mme. Orfila executed so
faithfully, to the letter, these last wishes of her husband,
that the day of her own death falling on a Saturday
she gave her last dinner on that day, and her last sigh
mingled with the notes of Beethoven.
THE COUP D'ETAT AND MY VICTIMS
I WAS caught in the Napoleonic machinery. Alas!
I was not the only man in that position. But the
men whom my function as commissary of police
compelled me to arrest have since described me as an
agent responsible for the crime of December. Alas! I
was only an instrument by which my masters violated
the law. The Legitimists, the Orleanists, who expiated
their errors in the Mazas prison, were far more respon-
sible than I for that crime, because it was they who, for
their own ends, had helped Louis Napoleon to enter
the Elysee. For my part, I came very near sacrificing
my career (as I shall presently show) for the protection
of one of them. If I was compelled to be one of the
active agents of the Coup d'Etat, I acted in it accord-
ing to my conscience.
The men really guilty of the Coup cTEtat were the
accomplices who demolished, piece by piece, the edifice
of the government of 1848, men who had a secret
understanding with Prince Louis and his followers to
kill the Republic ; a compact that lasted until the day
when one set was able to rid itself of the others by in-
carcerating them. M. de L first opened my eyes
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 63
to the proceedings of his eternal conspirator. It was
but a few months after the revolution of February, 1848,
that I knew the hand that was directing the riots.
The " reaction " once accomplished, as M. de L
had foretold, I was restored to my post as commissary
of police. I resumed my place after the affair of
May 31, during which Ledru-Rollin, one of the au-
thors of the fall of the monarchy, was sacrificed to his
enemies. I myself felt, as I was bandied about, first as
commissary of the Menilmontant quarter, then com-
missary at the Batignolles, then re-commissary of the
Saint-Martin quarter, the flux and reflux of the revolu-
tionary currents, set in motion by the conspirator in
Each time that some serious event occurred, pro-
duced by the Napoleonic phalanx, its agents were
changed from place to place, lest they should suspect
the bonds that secretly attached them to the Prince.
For instance : On the breaking-up of the national work-
shops, caused by the June affair , I was record-
ing in my proces-verbaux that certain insurgents who
had been killed at the barricades had in their pockets
gold sovereigns bearing the effigy of the Queen of
England. Scarcely had I begun this inquest on the
victims of June than I was sent to another post, that
of the Batignolles. My inquiry stopped there. My suc-
cessor took good care not to continue it, and not to
inquire what bond united the director of the national
workshops, M. Emile Thomas (who was abducted June
24), with the Napoleonic party.
64 MEMOIRS OF
The abduction of Emile Thomas and the assassina-
tion of General Brea, the two darkest facts of the June
affair, can be laid only to the direct action of the
Prince's party. Thus the horrible riot of June, as well
as the ridiculous affair of May 15, — the one fatal to
Cavaignac, the other fatal to Ledru-Rollin, — were the
first milestones that marked the advance of the noc-
turnal hero of December.
Louis Napoleon never ceased to conspire from 1831
to 1873. No sooner had the revolutionary foam carried
him into the Elysee than he made that abode (from
December 20, 1848, to December 2, 185 1) a centre
of conspiracy — conspiracy with the Legitimists and
Orleanjsts against the Republic and the Republicans ;
conspiracy with the Legitimists against the Orleanists,
during which both parties tried to reinforce their plots
with the discontented Republicans. From this inextri-
cable tangle of conspiracy the man of the Elysee, silent
as the sphinx, made ready to issue and give the word
when the moment came to put an end to a situation
that was strained to the utmost.
The Prince, when I first met him in 1831 at the
Lapin Blanc, was then conspiring under the mask
of amusing himself; he never ceased to do so. On
a throne, as in exile, his whole life was passed in mach-
inations to deceive his enemies, his friends, and his
accomplices. Conspirator in 1830, in the Roman States,
where his brother was mysteriously killed beside him ;
conspirator in 1831, when, lodging at the hotel du
Rhin with his mother, he brought veterans of the
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 65
Grand Army to their death beneath the column of
Vendome to make them shout: Vive VEmpereur!
conspirator at Strasbourg and Boulogne (facts too well
known to be more than mentioned here) ; conspirator
in 1848, after conspiring for years in London, in slums
and gambling-houses, at the expense of his mistress,
Miss Howard ; conspirator when he offered his services
to the government of the Republic, which accepted
them ; conspirator under the dictatorship of Lamartine,
who divined him, and sent him flying by one energetic
word; after which, however, he inundated the five
departments with agents and circulars that won him
a seat in the Constituent Assembly.
He was in Paris with the leaders of the national
workshops against the army; he put obstacles (by
means of the prefects and generals he had won over to
the Napoleonic cause) to the coming of the provincial
national guards, who desired to march to the deliver-
ance of the capital.
Later, as President of the Republic, he completed
his work on the 2d of December. I shall relate in a
very brief way the events of the Coup d Etat in which
I played a secondary part; I shall dwell on one corner
only of the picture, in which I followed the advice of
one of its most illustrious victims, M. Thiers, who him-
self had been the dupe of the great conspirator.
Everybody knows that to mask the Coup d Etat the
Prince-President gave a concert at the Elysee on the
evening of December 1,1851, to which he invited all the
most illustrious persons in Paris, — in the Assemblies,
66 MEMOIRS OF
in science, in letters, and in art. The composer, Felicien
David, conducted the performance of his Desert. My
Prefect, M. de Maupas, waited in the President's private
office till the concert was over, in order to receive his
The chief spirit of the nocturnal drama about to be
performed was at the Opera Comique in order to allay
suspicions. A lady said to him :
" Monsieur de Morny, is it true that they are going
to sweep out the Chamber? "
"Madame, I don't know anything about it," he re-
plied; " but if there is any sweeping to be done I shall
try to be on the side of the broom-handle."
At midnight M. de Morny rejoined his accomplices
at the Elysee. The concert was over ; the guests had
departed. The presidential mansion was once more in
darkness and solitude. A single lamp gleamed in the
private office of Louis Napoleon. It stood on a little
table beside which M. de Maupas had waited a full
hour, sitting before a pile of placards which, before
dawn, were to cover the walls of Paris.
Morny was the last to enter the room. He took his
seat between Louis Napoleon, Saint-Arnaud [Minister
of War], and de Maupas [Prefect of Police]. General
Magnan did not join the four others until later, and
then only to take Saint-Arnaud's orders.
" If his Excellency, the Minister of War, will give
me half an hour, his orders shall be obeyed," he said.
The orders being given he departed.
The decrees were then signed, and Colonel Beville,
I ' >MTi; DE MORNY
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 67
who was waiting in an adjoining room, started with
them for the National Printing-Office, where a com-
pany of soldiers stood over the printers, one to each
man, until they had printed the Proclamations, which,
in one night, changed the whole form of government.
During this time the Prince, who had sworn to
respect and maintain the Republic, unlocked a cup-
board and took from it four packets, bearing the names
of the four persons present. The first, addressed to the
Due de Morny, contained 500,000 francs ; he received
it, together with his appointment as Minister of the
Interior, and departed to take possession of that
The second packet, addressed to Saint-Arnaud, also
contained 500,000 francs, and an additional 50,000 for
Colonel Espinasse, who, during the night, was to
introduce a battalion of soldiers into the Chamber of
The third packet, addressed to M. de Maupas, con-
tained, with money, a list of all the representatives,
generals, men of letters, leaders of parties, whom he
was to arrest by his Corsicans, among whom, by special
favour, I was honourably included.
The fourth packet, and the smallest, was intended for
the police of the filysee. It contained only 100,000
francs, for the aide-de-camps, employes, spies, and agents
who posted the proclamations printed under the vigilant
eye of the soldiers.
The distribution made of these various sums, the
Prince dismissed his accomplices and awaited in silence
68 MEMOIRS OF
and solitude the result of his coup de Jarnac. Smoking
his cigar while he gambled the fate of France, he held
himself ready to cross the frontier or take up his abode
in the Tuileries.
It remains a singular thing that this conspirator had
so muddled mens' minds that a very large number of
Frenchmen believed that France was saved by his mon-
strous usurpation. The Republicans saw themselves
freed from the reactionaries of the rue de Poitiers; the
faubourg Saint-Germain felt itself delivered from its
fear of the faubourg Saint-Antoine, and from the threats
of the Red Spectre. But the very next night the secret
societies, from which the elect of the nation had issued,
saw themselves fooled — too late!
On the afternoon of December i, 185 1, I received
an anonymous and confidential letter, which enjoined
me to hold myself ready in case of an attack on the
President of the Republic. The mysterious writer of
the letter added that, knowing my very favourable senti-
ments towards the Assembly, he advised me to resign
my functions if I felt any scruples about acting in
favour of " the Elect of the Nation, now attacked by all
I foresaw another downfall. As my conduct at the
Prefecture had been irreproachable, I was given the
opportunity to resign before a charge was brought
against me, and a Corsican put in my place.
The letter perplexed me sorely. Rumours of a coup
d'etat were in the air. The population of Paris was
uneasy, agitated. The horizon had grown dark; a
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 69
thunder-clap was everywhere expected. I felt, as others
did, that the lightning was about to strike me.
But I possess a quality that my functions have de-
veloped — that of disregarding present danger, and
looking only to consequences. Now this letter, in
threatening me, plainly announced some great danger
for the adversaries of the President, against whom
I was, apparently, given an opportunity to declare
I thought of M. Thiers, who, during the last session,
had become the bitterest enemy of the President. With
the fatal letter in my hand, I walked up and down my
study, less anxious for my own fate than for that of
this leader of the Prince's adversaries. I asked my-
self, " What ought I to do ? If I resign my functions
my career is ruined, and I have no money. If, on the
other hand, I declare against my former benefactors,
I commit an act of ingratitude, particularly towards
After a short period of hesitation, I came to a resolu-
tion. I determined to warn M. Thiers, and, at the same
time, explain to him my cruel position. I went at once
to his little house in the rue Saint-Georges, and sent in
my name. I was received by the former Minister and
future President of a new Republic in his study.
I explained the object of my visit in a few words
(knowing well that M. Thiers liked better to hear him-
self talk than to listen to others). I showed him, in
support of my words, the letter I had received.
" My dear Claude," he said, in his high, clear voice,
7 o MEMOIRS OF
settling his spectacles in a particular way he had when
he was going to give his fixed opinion on some sub-
ject, " my dear friend, a commissary of police is a sol-
dier of the law. He should never reason ; he must only
act. If you receive an order to arrest me — well, then,
you must arrest me. A command, of whatever nature
it is, must be obeyed. That is my reply, and my advice
I was far indeed from expecting such an answer;
yet it relieved me of a heavy weight. My amazement
was so visible that M. Thiers perceived it, and he
" In coming to me, you wished, did you not, to get
yourself out of a great embarrassment? Well, I take
you out of it. If to-morrow, this evening, to-night, you
come with four gendarmes, and take me by the collar,
I shall remain none the less your friend. I shall see
nothing but the necessity that compels you to be my
gaoler. Soldier of the magistracy, you can have no other
thought but to obey it. And now, my friend, before
pressing your hand for the service you meant to render
me, permit me to blame you for not keeping to your-
self advice that came undoubtedly from the Prefecture."
" But, Monsieur Thiers," I remarked, " the advice
" Well, that is your excuse," he replied, beginning to
walk hurriedly up and down, as he always did when
he grew heated in a dialogue. " But I know you, my
worthy Claude; if that letter had been signed, you
would have committed the folly of sending in your
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 71
resignation rather than injure me or betray your chiefs.
I tell you I know you. And now," he added, stopping
abruptly, " let us talk as friends : you will arrest me —
that 's understood — and I shall thank you for so doing."
" What ! " I exclaimed, starting up with amazement,
" you will thank me, Monsieur Thiers ? "
" Most assuredly," he said, with that strident laugh
I knew so well when the sarcastic orator wished to con-
ceal his anger. " I am beaten. I have tossed up, heads
or tails, and brought down — tails ! The Prince has
won ; the Empire is a fact ; I told the Chamber how it
would be. The Chamber had but two ways to take —
either to join hands with the Prince, or to rally to the
regency. It did neither. It contented itself with vot-
ing restrictive laws ! Now, what remains for us to do,
us conservatives ? — to drop into objects of ridicule, or
be poked into prison ! "
And M. Thiers, as he said the last words, scurried
up and down as fast as his little legs would take him.
Absorbed in the gravity of the events my letter brought
before him, it was evident that the ambitious diplomat,
tricked by the dawning Caesarism, had forgotten me.
I made answer to his thought.
11 Upon my word, Monsieur Thiers, you look at your
critical position more philosophically than I should
u Because, my dear Claude, I am a politician. You
may be a very clever commissary of police, but you
will never be a politician — for which I congratulate
you ! — Come," he continued, after a moment's reflec-
72 MEMOIRS OF
tion, " I will hide nothing from you : the Prince, by
arresting me, will do me a very great service."
" I don't understand," I said, more and more aston-
" And yet it is very simple ! " he cried, shrugging his
shoulders, and beginning to trot again. " If Napoleon
does not arrest us to-morrow, we, his enemies, will be
forced to act. In that case, we put worthy men, like
yourself, in a position of embarrassment. Whereas, in
days of trouble like these, to imprison party men, like
me, like Cavaignac, like many others, preserves them
from themselves ; it shelters their responsibility to their
partisans ; it protects our persons, and yours, from a
coalition doomed from its start to defeat — I quote
those words from my former friend, M. de Morny him-
" Ah! " I exclaimed, wholly confounded. " Ah ! — so
then, Monsieur Thiers, if I arrest you to-morrow, by
order of M. de Morny, acting for the Prince, I shall do
you a service ? "
" A very great one, my dear Claude," he answered,
smiling, " a very great one. What do I lack that the
Prince has ? — prison, martyrdom ! His imprisonment
at Ham was a baptism ; mine might be a redemption !
If you knew, as I do, the inside of politics, as you know
the secret things of the Prefecture, you would know
that darkness reigns there, that chance is the great
stake of conspirators. In 1849, Morny, Changarnier,
and I dreamed of a coup d'etat to save France from
anarchy. In 185 1, Morny is against Changarnier and
MONSIEUR CLAUDE ?$
against me, to save France from anarchy for the bene-
fit of his brother ! And it is I — I — who, in their
eyes, become an insurgent, an anarchist ! Your duty
is to obey your chiefs and arrest me, if they order you
to do so, until the day when, chief in my turn, I will
take my revenge upon your Bonaparte. On that day,
my dear Claude, I will avenge you for the dirty work
you are forced to do, and I '11 avenge myself ! Adieu,
I '11 await you ; au revoir."
I left the rue Saint-Georges wondering at the mental
resources of the vigorous little man who took upon
himself to slam the prison-doors on his own nose in
order to have the satisfaction of breaking through
them. As for me, I was freed from all shackles in
what might be coming upon us.
At midnight I was summoned, with all the other
commissaries of Paris, to the Prefecture of Police and
into the private cabinet of M. de Maupas. The Prefect
received us in evening dress. He had not had time, on
leaving the Elysee (as I have already related), to change
his clothes, so eager was he to give us our instructions.
" A conspiracy," he said, " against the President of
the Republic is on the point of breaking out ; we know
the conspirators. The law is ready. Here are your
warrants to arrest the generals Cavaignac, Lamori-
ciere, Changarnier, Le Flo, Colonel Charras, and MM.
Thiers and Baze."
As he ended these words, and while a secretary
handed round the warrants, M. de Maupas came to
me, who was standing a little behind my colleagues,
74 MEMOIRS OF
nearly all of whom were strangers to me. M. de Mau-
pas drew me a little aside and said, in a low voice :
" Have you reflected ? "
I knew then for a certainty who had sent me that
" I shall do my duty," I answered, bowing.
I saw a gesture of surprise in the Prefect, who could
not keep himself from adding :
" Then your duty goes before your affections ? "
"I have a post, and I have a chief," I answered;
" I shall be faithful to my post and obey my chief."
" You are a worthy man and a good citizen," he said,
walking away from me.
Then, addressing all the commissaries, he said,
" Messieurs, all these arrests must be made before
Every one knows with what mysterious rapidity, with
what sureness of hand, these arrests were made ; while,
at the same moment, the Chamber was invested, and its
guardians, together with General Le Flo, commanding
a battalion of the 42d of the line, were captured and
conveyed to prison.
When Paris awoke on the morning of December 2,
the Coup d'Etat was an accomplished fact. The leaders
of the party, who might have prevented its execution,
were in the prison of Mazas, M. Thiers at their head.
No sooner had my Prefect, M. de Maupas, spoken to
me personally in his cabinet than I was plainly con-
vinced that the confidence with which he honoured me
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 75
was very limited. Furnished with my warrant, I had
not made twenty steps from the Prefecture towards
my post (where I was told to await further orders) than
I knew I was being dogged. A shadow never quitted
mine. I pretended not to see it ; but when I reached
the other bank I led my spy into a strong light, which
enabled me to see his profile out of the corner of my
eye. By his squat figure, his vulture head, his bristling
moustache, I recognized a Corsican; truly, I was well
watched! The grasp of the hand and the flattering
words of M. de Maupas were nothing more than honey,
covering the blade of the dagger that walked behind
I took care not to turn in the direction of the rue
Saint-Georges. Happily, and no doubt intentionally,
my warrant indicated another duty than the arrest of
M. Thiers. I returned to my office, where I was speedily
joined by my spy, who presented himself in the Prince's
name, and gave me definite orders as to the use I was
expected to make of my warrant.
I was ordered to go to the various newspaper offices
in my precinct and seize the presses, in case the edit-
ors, hearing of the events of the night, should print an
account of them in a manner hostile to the President.
As for the " right-thinking " newspapers [journaux
bien pensants], I was to explain the Coup d ' Etat in
a manner favourable to the Prince; and I was also
to leave a certain number of policemen to guard the
approach to these printing-offices.
This action was followed in all the printing-offices
76 MEMOIRS OF
in Paris, at precisely the same moment at which the
Legislative Chamber was captured, and M. Baze and
General Le Flo, M. Thiers, and Generals Cavaignac,
Bedeau, and the rest were arrested in their beds by
order of the President of the Republic for being ardent
Republicans! Some were taken to Mazas; others to
Ham — that cradle of the conspirator-prince, who now
imprisoned those lovers of liberty who were the pri-
mary means of getting him out of it !
My lot of victims in the raid was the least repugnant
to me. They were merely the material part of the in-
telligent world — now put, for the time being, under
a bushel. The next morning Paris was dumb. None
but the newspapers sold to the Elysee said a word of
the affair, and those only in three paragraphs furnished
by the future Emperor.
As for me, servant against my will of the friends
of the Elysian Order, I thought what I think to-day :
that France was punished because she had trifled
with her destiny; because her faults came from the
fault she had already* committed in 1848. Without
the fall of Louis-Philippe, we should never have fallen
into the hands of Lamartine, a poet without an aim ; of
Cavaignac, an irresolute general ; of Louis Bonaparte,
a prince without principles.
The morning of December 2, 185 1, will never be
forgotten by those who walked the streets of Paris as
the shops were opening, and knots of workmen, going
to their day's labour, were grouped about the Pro-
clamations, mysteriously posted up during the night,
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 77
and bearing the signatures of the Prince-President, De
Morny, Minister of the Interior, Saint-Arnaud, Minis-
ter of War, De Maupas, Prefect of Police. What did it
all mean ? What had happened ? No answer. Paris was
struck dumb;. minds and tongues were paralyzed. It
was useless to ask questions — the walls alone replied.
Placards were everywhere. One threatened death to
whoso tore it down ; another forbade all printers, under
heavy penalties, to print anything not authorized by the
Government. The President's Proclamation declared:
(1) That the city was under martial law. (2) That the
Assembly was dissolved. (3) That universal suffrage
was established, and (most significant of all) that a
general election would be held on December 14.
Presently the rumour ran that two hundred and
more of the deputies of the Chamber had been arrested
and put in prison ; among them many of the most
distinguished men in France — Generals Oudinot,
Cavaignac, Changarnier, Le Flo, and Lamoriciere; also
De Tocqueville, Sainte-Beuve, Berryer, Coquerel, Jules
de Lasteyrie, the Due de Luynes, the Due de Broglie,
and last, but not least, Monsieur Thiers.
For hours it was impossible to form an opinion of
public opinion. But as the day wore on, it dawned
upon the minds of observers that the most audacious
political act of modern history was likely to prove ac-
ceptable, for a time at least, to the French people.
Thinking men alone were against the "crime"; and
they, or their leaders, were gagged and throttled. But
the shopkeepers began to scent an era of luxury. The
7$ MEMOIRS OF MONSIEUR CLAUDE
proletariat and the populace, caught like flies in the
treacle of universal suffrage, were throwing up their
caps ; while the provinces, never really awakened from
the Napoleonic dream, were ready to welcome the
nephew of his uncle with enthusiasm.
Thus the Coup d'Etat, engineered by one visionary,
two scoundrels, and three tools, and resting on the
ephemeral emotions of the French people, triumphed.
THE POLICE UNDER THE EMPIRE
AFTER the Coup d'Etat the first care of the
conqueror of France was to put her under
the control of the police. To this solicitude
of Napoleon III (policeman himself) for his police,
do I owe my rapid rise. If my backbone had been
more supple, and if I had not clung exclusively to mu-
nicipal affairs, I might have held an important rank at
the Chateau. [The " Chateau " stands throughout for
the Emperor and his surroundings.] The protection of
M. de L , now become senator, opened to me the
way to fortune and to honours.
Without pretending to be a Cato, it was neverthe-
less repugnant to me to go against my conscience.
While respecting, for the sake of public security, the
man who called himself the envoy of Providence to
save good men and make evil ones tremble, I could
not forget the means taken to carry this "saviour"
from the filysee to the Tuileries. I was vastly pleased,
moreover, when I saw with what difficulty the " Elect
of the Nation " contrived to maintain himself amid the
accomplices of December, — insatiable parvenus, shady
henchmen, whose immorality equalled their cupidity;
8o MEMOIRS OF
and whose triumph could not save them from con-
At this period, the police were everywhere, because
the secret societies, tricked equally with legal society,
were arming under the orders of Mazzini ; policemen
were in the army, in the press, among the bourgeoisie, as
well as among the lowest Parisian classes. They formed
an invisible, but indissoluble, chain which led from the
most ignoble dens to the salons of the Tuileries. Bac-
ciochi and Hyrvoix — the former, the Emperor's Le-
bel, the latter, mayor of his palace — were the circu-
lators of His Majesty's secret orders. They spread
through Paris a vast crowd of spies, both men and
women, whose mission it was to discover the personal
enemies of the Empire.
Mme. X was one of these spies. Like many
others, she had not awaited the Coup d'Etat to fasten
herself secretly to the chariot of the new Caesar. For
this she was all the more trusted and the better paid.
The chambre noire, which I mentioned in connec-
tion with the last reign, was installed at the Tuileries
as soon as Napoleon III took possession of it. It was
not rare to see the sovereign himself in it with the
Alessandris and the Ruminis, when those Corsicans,
attached to his person, had to warn His Majesty that
some new Italians had been dispatched from London,
or from Naples, to attempt his life.
The informers, plotters, or bravi, who came to get
their pay in this secret room for services rendered, had
a singular way of presenting an order for the sum due.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 81
They breathed on the glass of the door of the ckambre
noire and then wrote their names on the mist left
there, together with the sum to be paid. Reading this
novel cheque, the cashier of His Majesty paid the
money, the creditor wiped off the mist with the sleeve
of his coat, and no trace remained of the passage of
the spy, who was never, at the Tuileries, a personage
of a low order.
M. Lagrange, chief of the political police, was, from
the moment of the Coup d'Etat, the intermediary, or
rather, the point of union between the Prefecture and
the private police of the Chateau. He was summoned
to the chambre noire every time that the spies gave warn-
ing of a plot against the life of the sovereign. The
affair of the Federal League brought into fine relief his
capacity. He also distinguished himself in the arrests
that followed the plot of the Opera-Comique. But he
did not foresee the bombs of Orsini ; and if the dis-
missal of Pietri, the Prefect, for ignorance in that affair,
was not followed by that of Lagrange, it was because
the latter's services were more precious than those of
the Prefect in the underground world of the Chateau
M. Lagrange brought weekly to the ckambre noire,
for His Majesty's enlightenment, one or more of the
thirty-six thousand dossiers [reports on individuals],
which were found in that chamber and burned by
the Commune — reports in which all the adversaries
of the Empire of any note, — Legitimists, Orleanists,
Republicans — had their names and histories inscribed
82 MEMOIRS OF
with the date of their birth. We can imagine, therefore,
the value of his functions. Through him, Napoleon III
was chief spy on his subjects and, through the cham-
bre noire, the Tuileries was an annex of the Prefect-
The police of the Empire invented a new species of
secret agents. They were under the absolute orders
of M. Lagrange, and were called indicateurs. They
must not be confused with the police charged with
keeping order in the streets, nor with the inspectors,
whose duty it is to investigate all matters affecting the
public safety. Exclusively devoted to politics, these
" indicators " were spread through all classes of society.
They wrote to M. Lagrange under feigned names.
They gave him detailed reports drawn from their inti-
mate relations with private persons.
Mme. X was one of these indicatresses paid by
M. Lagrange. At this period women played a very
great role in police affairs. Unhappily, it was not the
Emperors police alone that possessed women who did
this most unworthy, but very lucrative, business. The
police, and also the secret societies of foreign coun-
tries, imitated, in this respect, our taciturn and secretive
Even the Court balls were under the eye of the po-
lice. Extraordinary as it may seem, Mme. X and I
have met more than once, without appearing to know
each other, as invited guests at the Tuileries. And
we were far from being the only spies there present.
We had for rivals princesses, countesses, and chevaliers
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 8$
of all Orders acting for the foreign police. After the
war in Italy, agents of the Prussian Chancellor invaded
the salons of the Emperor and Empress. These Prus-
sian spies became so numerous after Sadowa that the
Emperor was scarcely master in his own house. At
the Tuileries, when he wished to speak to some great
French dignitary or foreign diplomat, he was forced to
take them into corners.
Paris saw, in its very highest society, princesses and
countesses who came there with the mission of cajoling
His Majesty and making him fall, by their beauty and
charm, into the traps set for him by his enemies. I will
mention two, who for years went by the names, in Court
circles and police annals, of La Prussienne and La
The first of these ladies was devoted, body and soul,
to Prussia. She never ceased conveying to it informa-
tion as to the state of our troops and their effective
force. She showed the reverse side of our military
figures, of which France knew only the obverse.
Through this woman the Prussians knew us by heart ;
while Frenchmen still believed that Prussia was the
vassal of old Europe, such as Europe was before Sadowa.
Yet for ten years Paris never ceased to admire this
woman. All salons were open to her; the most distin-
guished painters have given to posterity, by their art,
this bewitching creature, who has now made us pay
dear for our heedlessness, our want of caution, and our
The second of these ladies, an Italian princess, was
84 ' MEMOIRS OF
as fatal to the Emperor personally as La Prussienne
proved to be to France. This Italian princess was the
devoted friend of Orsini, Mazzini's right-hand man, 1
and it was she who foiled the police, through her power
over the Emperor, at the period when the horrible
plot of January 14, 1858, was hatching — the plot
that put the lives of the Emperor and Empress in
peril, deluged the rue Lepelletier with blood, wounded
women, children, citizens, and soldiers, and immolated
nearly one hundred and fifty lives.
The part that I played (thanks to information received
from Mme. X ) in that bloody affair won me my
elevation to the post of Chief of Police, after the dis-
missal of the principal agents of the Prefecture, and of
the Prefect, M. Pietri, who had allowed himself to be
fooled by the agents, or rather by these female spies of
the international social committees of London and Paris.
As for Mme. X , she was a woman who, by glid-
ing, first from mere caprice, into the most mysterious
and miry paths of social life, had acquired a very great
knowledge of men and things in the Imperial world.
Her shrewd intellect, as unbiased and acute as that of
a public prosecutor, her cruel perspicacity, carried her
beyond me, a trained and experienced policeman. I knew
before long that she possessed, thanks to her infernal
gifts, the most terrible secrets of the Imperial Court.
1 Felice Orsini, a descendant of the famous Orsini family, which, in
the 1 2th and 18th centuries gave cardinals and popes to the Church. The
celebrated Anne de la Tremouille, Princesse des Ursins (Orsini), mar-
ried into this family.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 85
After seizing, on the night of December 1st, as I have
related, the newspaper presses in my precinct, I had the
sad business, by order of M. de Maupas, of dispersing
the representatives at the Chamber, or of conducting
the most recalcitrant to Mazas. I have already said
that my delicate, illegal, and arbitrary mission was
easier to fulfil than I expected. For our country had
so long been the victim of illegal acts that it now stood
aloof from the struggle between the Prince and a Cham-
ber that was wholly unpopular. M. Thiers understood
this plainly enough when he received my warning on
the eve of the Coup d'Etat.
At this period the conservatives, under the threats
of socialism, and in the face of a double-dealing prince,
were themselves outside of the law. France belonged
only to the most audacious. Audacity was on the side
of the Prince ; it was not on the side of the Chamber,
then presided over by Baron Dupin, who, when the
Hall was invaded, said to his colleagues, as they rallied
around him for resistance:
" There 's no help for it ! Undoubtedly the Consti-
tution is violated. We have the right on our side, but
these gentlemen have the power. We can only with-
The majority of the deputies who did not yet believe
that might was better than right, voted to protest against
the bayonets that turned them out of the Temple of
the Law, where the Prince-President, "before God and
man," had solemnly sworn fidelity to the Republic.
The troops, having no orders to arrest the represent-
86 MEMOIRS OF
atives, merely turned them out of the Chamber ; on
which they met, in special session, at the office of the
Mayor of the ioth arrondissement. There these two
hundred and twenty members, comprising the majority
of the Chamber, under the leadership of Benoist d' Azy,
chose for their defender an enemy of the Republic —
General Oudinot! By this choice it became an easy
matter for General Forey, of the Elysee party, to carry
out the orders of M. de Morny.
When General Forey, with his troops, surrounded
the Mayor's office, I was sent in with some of my men
to show M. Benoist d'Azy M. de Maupas's order, and
require his colleagues either to disperse or be taken to
the Mazas prison by a detachment of chasseurs. They
chose the latter course. But when it came to escorting
them to Mazas, General Forey reflected that a first batch
of representatives and generals had been taken earlier in
the morning through the faubourg, and that it might
be dangerous to take a second. The two hundred and
twenty representatives were accordingly escorted be-
tween four lines of soldiers to the barracks on the Quai
d'Orsay, General Forey at the head of the convoy.
I was witness at the Mayor's office of the ioth arron-
dissement of the unheard-of brutality and shameful
threats with which these representatives were forced to
quit the room. At Mazas, in the early morning, the
clerks and turnkeys had shown the same brutality to
the personages they were ordered to lock up. Citizen
Nadaud, brought in at the same time as M. Thiers,
observed that the clerks, when they questioned the illus-
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 87
trious writer and ex-minister, were laughing at him with
scoffing and sarcastic eyes.
" A little decency, gentlemen ! " cried the workman-
deputy. " You have to do with the most glorious of our
orators, a learned man, one of those who have done
most for your cause — you, who call yourselves men
of order. Cowardly, vile reactionaries ! you are ever
ungrateful ! "
This exordium of citizen Nadaud did no good. They
dragged him out of the warden's office without allow-
ing him to say another word.
The cell of M. Thiers and the cell of the banker,
Mires, at Mazas have become legendary. They are still
shown : the one in its rigorous simplicity ; the other,
to favour the great financier, made double in size, and
furnished in a manner suitable for the father-in-law of
Prince Polignac ! There is another room at Mazas, on
the ground floor, called the parloir des avocats [the law-
yers' parlour], where lawyers can confer with clients
who are prisoners at Mazas. Its only furniture is a table
and a few chairs. At that table a strange assortment
of persons have been seated, — Thiers and Cavaignac,
Mires and La Pommerais.
M. Thiers, " son of the Revolution," as he called him-
self, he who had planned a coup d'etat with men who
were now his gaolers, was not the only man whom the
irony of fate brought to Mazas. The maker of the Col-
umn of July, who constructed that trophy to our con-
quests in liberalism, was sent to prison after casting his
last bronze in honour of the martyrs of liberty !
SS MONSIEUR CLAUDE
Here is the story : S received from the State cer-
tain cannons, to be melted up for the Column of July.
The metal did not prove to be what he expected, and
he sold it for a low price. Devoted to his art, and too
careless of his interests, the artist bought a superior
metal worthy of the national work he was to raise. He
then finished the present column. It is a masterpiece ;
unique in its capital, because the Column of July, unlike
the Column of Vendome, is in open work, without bronze
plaques fastened to the masonry.
This work, which redounded to the glory of the artist,
made him a bankrupt. The assignees discovered that,
in order to perfect his work, he had sold the cannons of
the State, thus compromising the interests of his asso-
ciates, who declared themselves deceived in their good
faith and defrauded of the public property. S ex-
piated his masterpiece at Mazas, which faces the col-
umn. The genius of Liberty, poised at the top of the
column, turns her back on the prison, and very wisely
conceals from it her broken chains. The unfortunate
artist hurls from his living tomb a denial of that column
to which he owes his loss of liberty.
HOW I PROTECTED THE INTERESTS OF
A GREAT LADY
IN 1852, nearly a year after the Coup oTEtat, I was
awakened at one o'clock in the morning to see a
lady who desired to speak to me in private. The
matter concerned the death of a man, so my secretary,
who roused me, said ; adding that there were circum-
stances which related to a young princess.
Before making known the object of this visit at so
unusual an hour, I must, in order to explain what fol-
lows, give some account of the secretary, whom the
police administration, ruled by the men of December,
had appointed to assist me in my functions. Not daring
to dismiss me, as they had the other commissaries of
the old regime, the Napoleonic powers had given me,
under pretence of assistance, a watcher, a Corsican, who,
for the last year, had followed me like my shadow. He
now waited about, after giving me the coroneted card
of the lady who desired to speak with me privately; and
I was actually obliged to take him by the shoulders
and push him into another room before I could receive
The name of this lady, which, at that moment, pos-
go MEMOIRS OF
sessed great authority in official circles, had evidently
produced upon my secretary a cabalistic effect. In vir-
tue of the secret mission he held from the Prefecture
over me, my Corsican believed he had a right, in the
interests of this lady, to be presuming. I made him
understand the contrary, for which the lady thanked
me ; though, to judge by her convulsed features, she
was greatly agitated by the event, whatever it was, that
had just happened.
Mme. de Montijo (for that w T as her name) carried
a sort of travelling-bag, filled with flasks of perfume.
While she talked eagerly and with a sort of thick pro-
nunciation, she inhaled from one or other of the
flasks, which soon filled the room with a suffocating
" Monsieur," she said, " I have just witnessed a ter-
rible event. The Prince de C , nephew of the Prin-
cesse de B , has been found dead in his room. He
has shot himself with a pistol. His death will cast deso-
lation over all Paris. But the most terrible part of it
is, that the end of this unhappy young man involves
my daughter, the wholly innocent cause of his death.
The Prince, who was the confidant of a friend, pos-
sessed certain letters from him, which, if they fall into
the hands of the Princesse de B , will be the ruin
of our family."
" Well, madame," I said, after listening to her atten-
tively, " what can I do in the matter ? "
" Everything, monsieur ; are you not the commissary
of that quarter ? "
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 91
" Madame," I answered, " my functions are limited
to viewing, with you, the body of the Prince, and mak-
ing a detailed report to the Prefecture."
" And yet," said the lady, opening another flask, " I
thought that in the case of a young man of foreign
birth, it was indispensable to attach the seals."
" That is so, madame ; but I cannot attach them
without the help of a clerk of the court."
11 That is to say," she said, with a frightened look,
" you cannot be alone when you fulfil that formality.
Who becomes, after that, the guardian of the seals ? "
" The next of kin to the deceased."
" Ah, that is the misery of it ! the misery of it ! " she
exclaimed, with tragic pantomime, — " the Princesse
de B is the next of kin, and she is the bitter enemy
of my daughter. If she gets possession of the Prince's
papers she will use them against my child, whose pre-
sent suitor may withdraw in consequence of the calum-
nies which the death of this young man will enable his
aunt, the Princess, to spread about! — Monsieur," she
went on eagerly, " those letters are in the drawer of the
desk of the dead Prince, in the room where he killed
himself; they are in a box labelled 'Spanish affairs/
Ah ! monsieur, if, by one of your agents, so skilful, so
experienced, you could make those letters disappear — "
" Madame," I said with indignation, " you insult me.
If you knew more of the officers of the French magis-
tracy, you would not allow yourself to make such a
" Monsieur ! " she exclaimed, bursting into tears,
92 MEMOIRS OF
11 God is my witness that I did not mean to insult you.
If I propose to you — at the cost of a fortune — "
" Enough, madame, enough ! say no more."
" But, monsieur," insisted Mme. de Montijo, whose
tenacity was one of her distinctive characteristics, " I
implore you to save my daughter. She is innocent of
any wrong. If the Prince is dead, it is because she re-
turned to him the declarations of his mad passion.
They are with the letters of his friend, the Duke of
A , in the box marked ' Spanish affairs.' "
" Once more, madame, I must assure you that I do
not wish to know these details. Pray cease your vain
endeavours to shake my conscience. You have come
here to inform me of the suicide of the Prince de C .
I am ready to follow you to the house, to examine and
report the suicide, nothing more."
" You are pitiless ! " cried Mme. de Montijo. " You
will be responsible for a misfortune deliberately planned
for some time by the Prince de C , in revenge for
my daughter's rejection."
" I am responsible to my chiefs only," I said firmly,
though, in truth, I was much moved by the despair of
At that moment my Corsican suddenly opened the
door of the room. Furious, I was about to rebuke his
indiscretion, when he explained it by introducing the
physician summoned by Mme. de Montijo to report with
me upon the suicide. This put an end to the scene.
I started in Mme. de Montijo's carriage, with her, the
doctor, and my secretary, to view the body and report
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 93
upon the death. On our way I saw signs of intelligence
given by my Corsican to Mme. de Montijo, which con-
vinced me that behind the door of my room the spy
had listened to our conversation.
When we arrived at the Prince's house I found the
servants in a state of great excitement. I made them
take me at once to the room where the deed was done.
The body lay on the floor. The ball had passed
through the left breast. On the table was an open let-
ter, written by the deceased, which had evidently been
returned to him, for the seal was broken. As I bent
down to read the letter, which would no doubt explain
the cause of the suicide, Mme. de Montijo, trembling,
her eyes full of tears, leaned over my shoulder and
pointed to the last sentence in the letter, which was as
" If you persist in not responding to the deep affec-
tion that I feel for you, if you treat me as the Duke of
A treated you, I will die; yes, I swear to you I will
die ! And I shall not do as you did, under like circum-
stances, / shall not cheat death!'
In spite of myself, I shuddered. The body lay at my
feet, proving that the Prince had kept his word. Mme.
de Montijo was right in what she had said : this death
was the supreme vengeance of a terrible madman !
I cast my eyes about the room to render account to
myself of what must have been the last thoughts of
this man before he sent himself to another world.
I did not see, by the dim light of the one lamp, the
desk the drawer of which contained, according to Mme.
94 MEMOIRS OF
de Montijo, the package of papers marked "Spanish af-
fairs." I observed that my Corsican was standing at
the end of the room, with his hands behind his back,
watching me attentively.
Otherwise, I was wholly absorbed in the sinister sight
before us. I could scarcely detach my eyes from the
being who had revenged himself on the woman he
loved for a passion he had not the courage to master. I
thought him doubly guilty in leaving death to complete
his vengeance. To my eyes he was base, and a coward,
and his dead body inspired me with no pity.
I examined his countenance attentively. He was
about twenty-five years old. He had the olive skin pe-
culiar to Spaniards, and the strongly-marked features
of an artful and vindictive character. His heavy jaws,
his narrow forehead, his eyes sunken in their sock-
ets, betrayed a savage nature ruled by a malignant
mind. The man could be divined from his corpse. I
comprehended how it was that, unable to possess the
woman he loved, he preferred to destroy himself rather
than see her the wife of another. Too well brought
up in a certain code to avenge himself coarsely, he
had left to his heirs the opportunity of completing his
I sat down at the table, taking possession, as it was
my duty to do, of the letter, which was to figure in my
proces-verbaL The physician, meantime, had made his
examination, and was preparing his report. At that
moment Mme. de Montijo, still behind me, said softly:
"Thank you." It did not seem to me that my action,
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 95
which was part of my official duty, deserved any grati-
tude from Mme de Montijo. But I had no time to
think about it, for at that moment the scene was com-
plicated by the arrival of another person, who entered
the room of the deceased like a tornado.
This person was the Princesse de B . At sight of
Mme. de Montijo, the Princess, who was not endowed
with sensibility, paid no attention whatever to the
corpse. She bounded like a hyena, cast furious glances
at Mme. de Montijo, and came straight to me.
11 Monsieur," she said, " you probably know the cause
of the death of my nephew. I suspect it. But if I were
ignorant of it, the presence here of madame " — here
she gazed defiantly at Mme. de Montijo — " would in-
form me of it. Remorse has brought that woman here.
But I, I have come for vengeance ! Come," she said,
looking me full in the face, " that unhappy man must
have explained, before he died, the cause of his suicide."
" Yes, madame, he did," I answered, " in a letter
which now forms part of my report."
" Give it to me."
" I cannot, madame."
" What ! " cried the Princess, as confounded as she
was angry ; "lam the next of kin to the Prince."
" I do not doubt it, Princess," I replied ; " but now
that I have made an examination, as a police officer,
into the death of the Prince, the matter must go to the
courts, and this letter which you claim belongs before
all to the law."
At this answer the Princess, who was irascible by
96 MEMOIRS OF
nature, roared like a lion. Observing that Mme. de
Montijo looked at me with gratitude, she could not
contain herself for rage.
" Very good," she said, " keep that letter till you re-
ceive a new order. Allow me now to use my legal
right to affix the seals. But before proceeding to that
formality, I shall drive out that woman. She has no
right to come here and trouble this house of mourning."
It certainly was high time to think of the dead ; and
as the Princesse de B pointed like a fury at Mme.
de Montijo, the latter slipped away from the scene, not
forgetting to produce another flask from her bag to
calm her agitation.
During this shocking scene of violence before a
corpse that was still warm, my Corsican remained in
the same position at the end of the room, his hands
behind his back. What had he been doing while I was
engaged in this domiciliary visit? I could not explain it
to myself. Distrusting the man, who was my Argus,
I called him to me at the moment when the two noble
ladies were looking at each other like two fishwives,
and I ordered him to sit down at the table and write at
my dictation. He obeyed with an alacrity that seemed
to me suspicious ; for I certainly detected on his face
a sort of fear which he was trying to hide by excess
of zeal. But I had no time to give to such suspicions,
for a clerk of the court arrived to affix the seals before
I had finished dictating my proces-verbaL
The Princesse de B , while shedding a few tears
over her young relative, was, no doubt, congratulating
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 97
herself inwardly on being able to make that death a
weapon of war against the daughter of her enemy. She
felt certain that among the chattels of the deceased
there must be a receptacle which, like Pandora's box,
would yield something to bring discord and lead to a
rupture between Mme. de Montijo's daughter and her
present suitor. I myself feared, from what Mme. de
Montijo had told me, that the vengeance of the Prince
would have some terrible effect.
What the vindictive old Princess imagined as little
as I did was what actually happened when the seals
The papers of the Prince de C were, by the
influence of the Princesse de B , taken to the Pre-
fecture, and subjected to the investigation of M. La-
grange, Chief of the Political Division of the Police ;
they were also submitted to the important personage
betrothed to Mile, de Montijo, whom these papers were
supposed to interest personally. But absolutely nothing
was found in them that could compromise the young
lady. The only paper which showed that the Prince
de C had destroyed himself on account of the
betrothed of his great rival was the letter annexed to
my report, and that letter was only another proof of,
and a striking homage to, the virtue of Mme. de Mon-
I own that I myself was very much astonished at
this negative result which foiled the Princesse de
B , for, shortly after, the young lady was married
to the illustrious personage of her choice. Another
98 MEMOIRS OF
thing that surprised me was the disappearance of my
Corsican. He never came again to my office after the
suicide of the Prince de C .
Long afterwards, when I thought no more of these
matters, Mme. de Montijo came again to see me. She
was then on the point of returning to Spain.
" Monsieur Claude," she said, " I cannot leave France
without personally thanking you, and leaving you a
testimonial to my warm gratitude."
I looked at her with amazement.
" Really, madame," I said, " I don't know what you
" You remember the suicide of the Prince de C ? "
" I remember it very well, madame."
" And you forget, from discretion no doubt, that you
protected the interests of my daughter under those
" I forget nothing, madame ; on the contrary, I re-
member that my duty compelled me to refuse to con-
ceal papers which, happily for you, existed only in your
" They did exist, monsieur ; and you know it, in-
asmuch as it was you, no matter what you say, who
removed them, by your secretary."
" Madame ! madame ! " I exclaimed, in a state of ex-
citement that gave me a vertigo, " it is not so ! If that
scoundrel to hide his own act asserts my connivance,
he lies — yes, madame, he lies odiously."
" Come, come ! Monsieur Claude, don't be angry.
Your anger is only another proof of your ability," she
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 99
said, smiling ; " it cannot impose upon me or release
me from the duty of gratitude."
" Madame," I replied, "what I told you formerly, I now
repeat : I am an honest man, incapable of doing an act
which should make a public functionary blush. I now
demand that you tell me what that fellow did to com-
promise me and serve you in spite of me."
Then Mme. de Montijo, only half-convinced by my
violent indignation, explained how my secretary (who
must have overheard my first conversation with her)
went to work to obtain the papers. The following is
what she related to me :
At the moment when the Princesse de B entered
the room like a tornado, my Corsican, who had care-
fully placed himself in front of the Prince's secretary,
with his hands behind his back, had just opened the
drawer of that piece of furniture. Feeling about with
his fingers for the bundle of letters, he found them and
rapidly transferred them to a pocket in his coat-tails.
This explanation gave me the key to the whole affair.
Of course I could then do nothing against what had
already been done. Besides I should ruin myself by
denouncing a man who, through venality, had done
a real service to personages who held my honour, my
position, my life in their hands. I said no more to
Mme. de Montijo beyond refusing her testimonials of
But I was not yet quit of the affair. Some days
later, an ex-ambassador, known to be the intimate
friend of Mme. de Montijo, came to me and offered
ioo MEMOIRS OF
to make me, in exchange for a very small sum, one of
the principal shareholders in a Society for " Chemical
Products " ; a society with a capital of 600,000,000
francs, founded under the patronage of my visitor. I
refused the honour and the profit which the noble
Spaniard deigned to offer me, under pretext that I
was not rich enough to avail myself of this proof of
gratitude from Mme. de Montijo who, I added, owed
me absolutely nothing.
Lucky for me that I did so ! The ex-ambassador,
after obtaining from the adherents of the new Empire
1,500,000 francs for the costs of organizing the work
of the Society, forgot to organize it, shouldered the
cash-box, and crossed the Pyrenees.
[NOTE. — The Empress Euge'nie, to whom this incident of M. Claude's
memoir relates, was the granddaughter of Mr. Fitzpatrick, American Con-
sul at Malaga during the early years of the nineteenth century. Mr. Fitz-
patrick's wife was of Scotch descent, and claimed to be connected in some
remote way with the Stuarts. They had one daughter, a very beautiful and
accomplished girl, who made a brilliant marriage with the Marquis de
Montijo, Comte de Teba. He died after a few years of married life, leaving
her with two young daughters, one of whom subsequently married the Duke
of Alba ; the other, Euge'nie, became Empress of the French. Madame de
Montijo was admired wherever she lived; and two distinguished Americans
have left on record their opinion of her.
Mr. George Ticknor, the historian of Spanish literature, wrote thus of
her to his family in 1828 :
" I knew Madame de Montijo in Madrid, and from what I saw of her
there and at Malaga, I do not doubt she is the most beautiful and accom-
plished woman in Spain. Young, beautiful, educated strictly by her mother,
a Scotch woman (who for this purpose took her to England and kept her
there six or seven years), possessing extraordinary talents, and giving an
air of originality to all she says and does, she unites, in a most bewitching
manner, Andalusian grace and frankness with French facility of manners
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 101
and English thoroughness in her knowledge and accomplishments. She
knows the chief modern languages well ; feels their different characteris-
tics, and estimates their literatures aright. She has the foreign accom-
plishments of painting, singing, playing, etc., joined to the natural one of
dancing, in a high degree. In conversation she is brilliant and original ;
yet with all this, she is a true Spaniard, and as full of Spanish feelings as
she is of talents and culture."
In 1853, Washington Irving who, for several years, was American Min-
ister at the Court of Spain, wrote as follows to his nephew :
" I believe I told you that I knew the grandfather of the Empress, old
Mr. Fitzpatrick. In 1827 I was at the house of his son-in-law, Count Teba,
Marquis de Montijo, in Granada ; a gallant, intelligent gentleman, much
cut up in the wars, having lost an eye, and been maimed in a leg and a
hand. Some years later, in Madrid, I was invited to the house of his widow,
Madame de Montijo, one of the leaders of ton. She received me with the
warmth and eagerness of an old friend. She subsequently introduced me
to the little girls I had known in Granada, now become fashionable belles
in Madrid. . . . Louis Napoleon and Euge'nie de Montijo — Emperor and
Empress of France ! He, whom I received as an exile at my cottage on the
Hudson ; she, whom at Granada, I have dandled on my knee ! The last
I knew of Euge'nie de Montijo, she and her gay circle had swept away
a charming young girl, beautiful and accomplished, a dear friend of mine,
into their career of fashionable dissipation. Now Euge'nie is on a throne ;
and the other is a voluntary recluse in a convent of one of the most
Though the Empress Euge'nie was indeed gay and even giddy from
her youth, and through some years of her imperial life, no breath of real
scandal dimmed her name. The story that M. Claude half tells had
nothing in it that was discreditable to the young girl. It was well known
at the time, and is simply as follows : Euge'nie de Montijo was engaged to
the Duke of Alba, whom she adored. He was faithless to her, and mar-
ried her sister, with the consent of the family. The young girl suffered
terribly for a time in health and spirits ; and it is no wonder that Mme. de
Montijo was anxious to recover letters that related to a family distress.
An anecdote, told by one of the de Goncourts, throws light on one, and
probably the chief, motive for her action :
The Emperor, he says, who was passionately in love with Mile, de
Montijo, was as passionately jealous of her heart. Riding together in the
forest of Compiegne, he suddenly asked her if she had ever been in love
102 MONSIEUR CLAUDE
with any man. To which she answered, with the simplicity of truth : " I
may have had fancies, sire, but I have never forgotten that I was Ma-
demoiselle de Montijo."
That anecdote explains why her mother was anxious to recover the
letters : — not to screen her daughter's fame, which was never in ques-
tion, but to prevent the jealous Emperor from breaking off the mar-
THE BOMBS OF ORSINI
ON the morning of the 12th of January, 1858,
I received a secret visit in my private office
from Mme. X , the Chateau spy. She
seemed in a state of great excitement; her features
were convulsed ; her voice was broken by either fear
or despair. I had not seen her of late ; in fact, I had
avoided her, and I felt that some serious circumstance
must have occurred to bring her to me. I was not
" My friend," she said, falling into a chair, " I am in
despair. The Emperor is not prudent enough with his
mistresses ; he tells them too much, he trusts them too
" I do not understand you, madame," I said coldly.
" Ah, true ! of course you cannot know that for several
months past he has met in turn, at my house at Au-
teuil, an English woman and two Italians, one of whom
is that duchess, la Prussienne ; the other a princess,
both of whom are affiliated with the Mazzini band."
I was stunned for a moment under this revelation.
But knowing the excitability of Mme. X , I was
about to treat the matter as folly, when I remembered
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the words of the petulant Marquis de Boissy, recently
uttered by him in the tribune of the Senate Cham-
" The Emperor is not cautious enough with women.
His Majesty, out of regard for us and for himself, ought
not to put himself at the mercy of the first hussy who
I therefore asked Mme. X , with some excitement
of my own:
"What makes you suppose that those women are
conspirators ? "
" I suppose nothing," she replied; "I assert. If I had
nothing but suppositions I should not come here to
see you. If the Chateau, under the influence of those
Italians and that English woman, did not turn a deaf
ear to my revelations, I should not be here now. But
alas ! I have no other hope than in your assistance, my
good Claude, to open the eyes of the Minister of the
Interior, the Prefect of the Seine, and the Prefect of
Police, who are doing nothing and will do nothing
against the dangerous confidants of the Emperor's
For a moment I was perplexed and almost as agitated
as Mme. X . She was showing me a danger and
casting me into it. Her excess of zeal had made her
discover some plot w T hich, for their own security, my
chiefs evidently did not wish to know of, fearing to
draw down upon themselves hatreds that might destroy
I answered her rather curtly :
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 105
" If the Minister, and if my chiefs refuse to believe
you, why do you expect me to believe you ? "
" But," she persisted in a tone of certainty, " I have
" Prove it to me."
" You know that Percy whose real name is Pieri ?
Well, he is in Paris."
"What of that?"
" I saw him come out of my house at Auteuil ; he
had just left the Italian Princess who comes there often
to meet the Emperor, though all the Court, except His
Majesty, knows she is the mistress of Orsini, Mazzini's
" That does not prove that Percy, or Pieri, has come
to plot against the Emperor. To relieve your mind of
that idea, I will tell you in confidence something that
I have from Lagrange himself [Chief of the Political
Police]. It is this : the Emperor is reconciled with
Mazzini. Before long France will feel the results of
this reconciliation, possibly in a war with Austria.
Why, then, should the Italian Internationalists continue
to send conspirators against the Emperor who now
dreams only of the independence of their country."
" Ah! " exclaimed Mme. X impatiently; " that's
all you know at the Prefecture, is it ? I am not sur-
prised that your Pietri [then Prefect] lets regicides do
what they like in Paris, or that the Emperor's life is
no more safe than that of a rabbit on a plain ! Let me
tell you that it is since the Emperor's reconciliation
with Mazzini that the latter's party is more furious than
106 MEMOIRS OF
ever against Napoleon. This very day it has dispatched
Orsini from London to checkmate this new reconcilia-
tion which will once more make Mazzini the Emperor's
It was my turn to be both surprised and alarmed at
this unexpected revelation.
" But," I exclaimed, " how did you obtain these details."
" From the wife of that Percy, who," she repeated, " is
not Percy but Pieri " (a man against whom, as I well
knew, she had a long-standing grudge and enmity).
11 The woman lives in the rue de Champ-d'Asile, at
Montrouge. You see I give you facts. I have not lost
track of that man since he left my house at Auteuil, for
a day, nor an hour, no, not a minute. I have learned
that he left London January 8. He is not with his wife
at Montrouge, and I have just discovered that he is
stopping at the Hotel de France et de Champagne
under the name of Joseph Andre Percy."
" Why," I said, carefully jotting down the name and
address in my note-book, — " why did n't you have the
man arrested as a suspicious person who has no right
to be in France ? "
" Because," she replied, " I wanted to know his pre-
sent object ; and I do know it now, from his wife whom
I have seen and questioned — adroitly. Well, this Pieri
has been sent by that London committee, presided over
by Ledru-Rollin, to assassinate the Emperor. He is
affiliated with others, one of whom, hiding under an
English name, is no other than Orsini, Mazzini's right-
hand man. I have these details from Pieri's wife."
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 107
" But," I objected, " is it likely that if such a plot
exists, the wife of one of the conspirators would tell
such facts out of mere gossip when she must know
they would bring her husband to the scaffold ? "
" She may have her reasons," she replied signifi-
cantly. " If this Pieri, this conspirator, has n't the cour-
age to betray his accomplices openly, he may be glad
to find, through his wife, an agent who may help him to
escape the guillotine."
" My dear," I said, to shorten this curious interview,
" I think that by encouraging the talk of the wife of
the man who injured you, you are seeking a personal
vengeance. Permit me to believe, until further proof,
that the Minister and my superiors are right in not
acting on your premature judgement. Nevertheless,
I take note of your revelations, and of the whereabouts
of this Pieri, who shall be closely watched."
" Ah ! " she cried, leaving me with a contemptuous
air, "you think I am acting from personal vengeance
— ah ! you are like all the rest ! Ah ! in spite of my
warning, you persist in thinking His Majesty runs
no great danger — Well, you will see! you will
see ! "
And away she went.
I own I was much shaken, in spite of my denials, by
her evident belief in the truth of what she said. She
certainly had cause for bitter personal hatred against
Pieri ; but the information she gave me coincided with
some that the London police had sent to the police of
Paris. M. Lagrange, Chief of the Political Police, had
108 MEMOIRS OF
been informed of the departure from London of Orsini
and three other adherents of Mazzini. But neither the
Minister of the Interior, M. Billault, nor the Prefect of
Police, M. Pietri, had given orders to prevent any
consequences that might result from this new move of
the socialist committees. Either the danger was not
serious, or some powerful influence was protecting the
It was plainly impossible for me to knock down a bar-
rier Mme. X had failed to overcome. I contented
myself with making her information the subject of a
report. It remained without answer from either the
Ministry or the Prefecture.
A few days later that very report brought me upon
the stage in the horrible drama that neither the Em-
peror nor his Minister had prevented, because a woman,
the Italian Princess, had an interest in seeing its terri-
ble conclusion — that is to say, in causing the Emperor
to fall into a trap laid for him by her lover, a regicide.
Two days after I had received the visit of Mme. X
and had made my report, Paris was shuddering with
horror at the frightful catastrophe that had taken place
under the peristyle of the Opera House.
On the evening of January 14, 1858, the Emperor
and Empress went to the Grand Opera, where the
highest Parisian society awaited their coming. The
Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who was staying at the
Chateau, had preceded their Majesties. An immense
crowd was assembled in the street, among them many
policemen, at the head of whom was the famous Ales-
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 109
sandri, the officer specially charged to watch over the
person of the Emperor.
This evening the Prefecture was on the watch,
though tardily, in consequence of a fresh manifesto
from Mazzini, published at Genoa in the Italia del
Popolo. Each manifesto had hitherto been the signal
for homicidal outbreaks ; and new reports had come
from foreign parts speaking of infernal machines and
repeating that emissaries had left London for Paris by
way of Brussels. If proper precautions on the part of
the Government were not taken, it was not the fault
of the subalterns of the Prefecture, nor of its agents
in foreign countries.
It was on the morning of Thursday, January 14, that
their Majesties announced their intention of being pre-
sent at the Opera House that evening. The programme
arranged for the benefit of Massol, who had just retired
from the stage, consisted of three acts of Marie Tudor,
played by Mme. Ristori, and one scene of La Muette.
The facade of the theatre was brilliantly illuminated.
At half-past eight o'clock the imperial cortege came
at a slow trot down the boulevards to enter the rue
Le Pelletier. It consisted of three carriages escorted
by a company of the lancers of the guard, commanded
by a lieutenant, who rode close to the right-hand door
of the carriage in which were the Emperor and
Empress ; the sergeant of the guard riding beside the
At the moment when this carriage, which was the
last, came in front of the peristyle of the Opera House,
no MEMOIRS OF
the two which had preceded it, occupied by the cham-
berlains and the officers of the palace, were already
under the vaulted passage leading to a special pavilion,
in which was a new stairway just constructed for the
use of the Emperor.
In the same carriage with their Majesties sat Gen-
eral Roguet. The coachman slackened speed to enter
the passage, and at that instant an explosion like a
thunder-clap was heard. Fire-balls burst upon the
pavement, scattering murderous projectiles. Two de-
tonations followed the first. They extinguished all the
gas-jets. Eyes that a moment before were dazzled by
the brilliancy saw nothing suddenly but blackest night.
In that darkness was heard the crash of glass along
the peristyle, the snorting of frightened horses, the
heartrending shrieks of the wounded and dying, whose
blood began to flow along the roadway.
During these three explosions of this homicidal hur-
ricane, a rain of iron and fire fell upon the imperial
carriage, and gushed from the pavement upon the
living rampart that surrounded the Emperor and Em-
press. The horses of the escort plunged around the
carriage, trampling on the dead and dying. The zinc
awning of the peristyle echoed under the blows of
this infernal hail ; the windows of the adjacent houses
crashed with a din as fearful as that of the first explo-
sions. The murderous attempt of the 14th of January,
of which Mine. X had given warning, was an
Mingling with the populace crowding the pavement,
MONSIEUR CLAUDE in
the murderers had thrown three bombs in succession.
The effects were awful. The pavements ran blood ;
the posters on the walls were splashed with it. Among
the dead and dying, the terrified servants struggled to
see, with haggard eyes, what had happened to their
sovereign. The first bomb had scarcely burst among
the escort of lancers, before the second exploded under
the front wheels of the imperial carriage, killing the
horses. If the body of the carriage had not been lined
throughout with iron plates, it could not have resisted
the seventy-six projectiles with which it was riddled.
At the first explosion, the Emperor attempted to get
out of the carriage on the right-hand side, to seek re-
fuge behind the peristyle. Being unable to open the
door, he awaited, motionless and stupefied, as did the
Empress, the end of the detonations and the carnage.
The Emperor's hat was shot through by some project-
ile that slightly wounded his face. The Empress was
also slightly wounded on the forehead. As for General
Roguet, he received a wound the danger of which was
not discovered until later.
Hardly had the last explosion ceased when a man
with a mutilated face thrust his head into the carriage,
staining the gown of the Empress with his blood. Was
he the doer of the deed, seeking to know if his work
was accomplished ? No ; his voice reassured their Maj-
esties at once. He was Alessandri, the most faithful,
the most devoted agent of the Emperor, who now flung
himself before his master to make a rampart of his own
body. Next, behind him, M. Lanot, Commissary of
ii2 MEMOIRS OF
Police at the Opera House, appeared ; then M. Hebert,
a police officer, and MM. Alphonse Royer and Gustave
Vaez, directors of the theatre.
The Emperor and Empress then left the carriage,
assisted by General Roguet — far more seriously hurt
than their Majesties. They made their way slowly to
the great door of entrance. The dress of the Empress
was spattered with blood ; she left behind her a mound
of dead and dying men, the number of whom amounted
to one hundred and sixty persons. The Emperor's
coachman and three footmen were seriously wounded.
Two of the lancers were shot, one mortally, but he
would not leave his post. When the lieutenant in com-
mand of the company called to his men asking if any
were wounded, " I am," replied the lancer, raising his
hand. Then he fell into the arms of a comrade and
died shortly after.
A few minutes before the first explosion the police offi-
cer Hebert met, at the corner of the rue Le Pelletier,
a man that he recognized as Pieri, whom my report,
and also a dispatch from the agent at Brussels, had
announced as having arrived in Paris January 9, with
a companion, for the purpose of assassinating the
Emperor. Pieri was arrested and taken, temporarily,
to the nearest police station. He was found to carry
a five-barrelled revolver, a knife, a dagger, a Bank of
England note, and a small metal cylinder. The latter
was evidently an explosive machine, for Pieri said :
" Take care ! mind that, for it may do harm."
This arrest took place only a few minutes before
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 113
the first bomb exploded. Hebert, though wounded by
several fragments of the projectile, made the report of
his important capture instantly, being confident that he
had, fortunately, arrested one of the murderers before
he had been able to do his part in the crime.
It was also, thanks to my report, due to Mme.
X that the Prefecture was immediately on the
track of Pieri's accomplices, namely, Orsini, Gomez,
and Rudio. It was not midnight when, in consequence
of Hebert's report, I received orders to go to the Hotel
de France et de Champagne, where, as I had already
reported, Pieri was stopping in company with another
individual. As I state nothing in this record of my life
that is not strictly correct, I here reproduce textually
the proces-verbal which I wrote on the spot, and which
is now in the archives of the Prefecture.
[This document, which is long and wordy, and full
of minute details that add little to the main story, need
not be reproduced here. It is enough to say that M.
Claude arrested the companion of Pieri, a Portuguese,
named Da Silva.]
While I was arresting Da Silva at the Hotel de
France et de Champagne, a waiter at the Broggi res-
taurant, directly opposite to the Opera House, found
a pistol under a staging, and close beside the staging
a wounded man. On being questioned, the man said
his name was Swiney; that he was the servant of an
Englishman, Mr. Allsop, living in the rue Monthabor,
The true name of Swiney was Gomez, the so-called
ii4 MEMOIRS OF
Allsop was Orsini, and the Portuguese, Da Silva, was
Thus the performance at the Opera was not con-
cluded before the police had under arrest all the actors
in this bloody tragedy. While the Emperor appeared
to follow with a calm and tranquil eye the scene upon
the stage, wiping off now and then a few drops of
blood that trickled from his slight wound, he was re-
ceiving summaries of our reports from his officers. He
could not then fail to see that the conspiracy was
hatched by Italian Carbonari, with whom he himself
had been affiliated since 1830.
How was it, then, that Orsini, Mazzini's lieutenant,
had been sent from London to commit this crime at the
very moment when the Emperor was arranging with the
great chief of the Carbonari to devote himself, with them,
to the deliverance of Italy? Could there be schism among
the Carbonari ? Had they as little confidence in Louis
Bonaparte's oath, as the leaders of the French demo-
cracy had when he swore his oath to the Republic?
There lay the mysterious point of this frightful crime.
At this epoch, Mazzini had greatly displeased many
of his partisans by accepting the alliance of Napoleon III,
who had betrayed them, with Victor Emmanuel ; the
latter seeking to free Italy only to become himself its
Karl Marx, in the name of the German socialists,
caring little or nothing for Italy, and Bakounine, the
Russian nihilist, who was always protesting against the
Mazzinian mysticism, worked themselves up to such
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 115
a point over the chiefs decision that they parted from
Orsini, the right hand of the Patriarch of the Inter-
national, angered by seeing his country doomed to
monarchy, took the same course as Marx and Bakou-
nine. He put himself at the head of a group of Car-
bonari and Internationalists to resist Mazzini.
Orsini first concerted, with the Italian Princess,
a scheme for abducting the Emperor from the house
of Mme. X at Auteuil. When that scheme failed,
Orsini, who had taken refuge in London, turned his
mind to the project of assassination :
"We were convinced," he said, at his trial, "that
the surest means of making a revolution in Italy, was
to produce one in France ; and that the surest means
of producing one in France was to kill the Emperor."
After consulting with Pieri, who made Gomez and
Rudio known to him, Orsini, chivalrous by nature and
trained in the Mazzinian school, perceived that these
accomplices were common rascals, incapable of com-
prehending his aspirations. He then spoke of his pro-
jects to an Englishman named Thomas Allsop, and to
a French refugee in London named Simon Bernard.
Allsop (whose name Orsini took later) was an ardent
Chartist, and the intimate friend of Robert Owen, the
socialist. As for Simon Bernard, he was a fanatic, who,
like Karl Marx and Bakounine, dreamed of regenerat-
ing society by a radical transformation.
From this combination of these adversaries of tyr-
anny sprang the savage idea of explosive bombs. They
n6 MEMOIRS OF
were to be called " Orsini bombs," because that lover of
the Princess felt himself in honour bound to assume the
whole responsibility of a crime inspired by his love for
the country which was his and hers.
Gomez has told how this new association of regicides
was formed. Meeting Orsini and Bernard in a London
street, Gomez invited them to come the next day to his
lodgings in Grafton Street. " During this visit," adds
Gomez, " Orsini remarked to Allsop, Simon Bernard,
Pieri, and me that the Prophet (the name given to
Mazzini) was losing his vigour; that his enterprises
ended only in getting men uselessly shot. He then
told us of certain explosive bombs which he had or-
dered in Birmingham by the assistance of the English-
man Allsop. He said he had got the idea in Belgium
where he had seen, in a museum, bombs of the same
kind made in 1854 for the purpose of killing the Em-
peror. He ended by saying that the explosion of these
bombs would be fireworks let off in honour of the tri-
umph of a Universal Republic. Bernard, the c clubist,'
who travelled constantly from Germany to Belgium, was
to inform the secret committees of France, Italy, and
Belgium of the exact moment when the bombs would
be thrown in order to envelop with a like deed all sup-
porters of tyranny."
Thus, as it will be seen, Mazzini was not in the plot.
He could not be — he who accepted an alliance with
crowned parvenus and constitutional kings for the
purpose of arriving, by slow but sure steps, at a Uni-
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 117
Mazzini, by his intellect, was infinitely superior to
the lovers of liberty who surrounded him. He was
never what common minds have made him — an apostle
of murder. He has condemned in his writings the errors
of our first Revolution, which, in supporting itself by
terror, gave birth to the most odious of despotisms —
military despotism. Although Mazzini did too often
threaten with a dagger princes who had risen, like
Napoleon III, on the shields of a mysterious army, he
did so only when excited to irritation by his overpower-
ing love for humanity, whose cause such princes were
betraying while pretending to defend it. He had no
more dangerous enemies than his brother Carbonari,
for Mazzini detested atheism. Yet Bakounine, his
adversary, said of him :
" He has the gift of entering the souls of all who
approach him, warming them by the beams of his in-
tellect, by his glance at once serious and gentle, and
his shrewd but melancholy smile. Whoever sees and
listens to him lets his mind and his heart be captured
willingly. Never thinking of himself, always of those
who come to tell him of their wrongs, Mazzini compels
the confidence even of those who are most distrustful,
and the return to him of all who have alienated them-
selves from him, either through impatience or ambition.
Such, fundamentally, is this terrible revolutionist, the
founder of the ' International,' who has done such
harm, and will do more, to the old society."
Mazzini was a mystic ; Orsini a fanatic. The latter
desired, like the new dissenters from the " Interna-
nS MEMOIRS OF
tional," an immediate Republic, a Republic quand meme.
When the Patriarch declared in favour of the union of
Napoleon III with Cavour and Victor Emmanuel, the
rupture between himself and Orsini took place. The
latter was a dangerous dreamer, like other would-be
Seers, who ruin their cause with equal clumsiness and
heroism. The Italian Princess who was devoted to him
had the same enthusiasm of nature and the same hero-
ism. She had also the same antipathy to Napoleon III ;
not because she was, like Orsini, republican, but be-
cause, on the contrary, she desired, as an Italian, that
the House of Savoy should reign over the whole Pe-
ninsula without the aid of foreign intervention. She
wished, like Orsini, that Italy should make herself;
she dreaded the bad faith of the Emperor, and foresaw
that he would fail his allies. It was she who decided
Orsini to detach himself from the Prophet, when the
latter arranged with Cavour the means of forcing Napo-
leon III to declare war upon Austria.
The objections which the patriotic Princess made to
Mazzini's scheme struck, through Orsini, the minds of
a great number of the Carbonari. The excitement was
great in the " International," which henceforth worked
under the orders of Orsini and without reference to its
founder and Patriarch. Then it was that the Princess,
Orsini's soul, inspired him with the idea of abducting
the Emperor. It was the failure of that abduction which
led to the fatal plot of the Orsini bombs.
Mazzini became almost abandoned. He resigned
himself quietly, looking afar. The short-sightedness of
JOSEPH M \//.l\I
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 119
his late followers only deepened his contempt for men.
He isolated himself like a god, certain that his judge-
ments would be justified sooner or later; very certain
also that his apostles, who had departed from him with
sorrow, would return to him as soon as they failed in
their own projects and had seen their mistake.
His certainty was justified. When the plot of the
bombs failed, its ill success arresting the social move-
ment and giving stronger power to the imperial regime,
Orsini and his accomplices comprehended at last that
in order to triumph it is not enough to have an iron
temperament ; it is also necessary to have, like Mazzini,
the nature of a statesman. Vanquished in both plots,
dragged to the scaffold for not having listened to
Mazzini, Orsini surrendered — too late for himself, but
not for his cause — to the diplomatic judgement of the
It was Mazzini who, conjointly with Napoleon III
and Victor Emmanuel, dictated to Orsini the famous
policy letter, in which the relentless enemy, the enemy
quand meme of the Emperor, was made to say that
" his father had joyfully shed his blood for Napoleon
the Great; and that he himself, in marching to the
scaffold, made but one prayer, namely, that His Majesty,
Napoleon III, would deliver his country, and thus secure
for himself the benedictions of twenty-five millions of
citizens throughout posterity."
Evidently these thoughts could not be those of
Orsini ; they were dictated to him by the subtile Maz-
zini, who, himself, did not believe one word of the
120 MEMOIRS OF
letter, written to rouse the chauvinism of the French
people, of which, in the interests of his country, he
stood so much in need. The Italians are true sons
of Macchiavelli. Orsini's letter, read before the judges
by his counsel, Jules Favre, with permission of the
Emperor, was a veritable triumph for the defender
of the foreign regicide, by which he profited to spread
before an excited public, eager for liberty, a profusion
of the finest flowers of rhetoric — all poisonous.
Orsini, by way of recompense, left, in his will, the
sum of eight hundred francs for a watch which the Ital-
ian Princess purchased and sent to Orsini's defender
with inscription graven on the case :
To Monsieur Jules Favre, Felice Orsini
I was witness of these incidents, being stationed in
the corridor on which the cells of persons condemned
to death open. Orsini, who distrusted the very walls of
his cell, carried with him to another world many secrets
concerning the murderous attempt of January 14.
I think I have now said enough to show that in this
bloody tragedy the Emperor, Mazzini, Cavour, and Vic-
tor Emmanuel were essentially in accord with Orsini
to expel the Austrian oppressors from Italy. If Orsini
paid with his head for his crime, it was less because
he had aimed at Napoleon III and shed French blood
than because he had disobeyed Mazzini, his Carbonaro
brother. This tragedy, which alarmed all conservative
France, was, in the end, a sort of comedy played be-
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 121
tween the conspirators and the princes. The Emperor,
had he dared, would have spared Orsini's life, as he
did spare those of Rudio and Gomez. But in vain did
the Empress persuade the Emperor to have mercy,
calling to her aid the Archbishop of Paris ; Marshal
Pelissier, in private conference, showed the sovereign
that here was a case in which he had " not the right of
pardon." In a speech full of plain common sense, the
Marshal proved to the Emperor that this right was
withdrawn from him in a case where French blood had
been shed on his behalf by regicides.
On the 13th of March, 1858, the scaffold was erected
for the two men. Orsini and Pieri, barefooted, swathed
in black veils, the veil of parricides, were exposed on
the scaffold, while a clerk read to the assembled people
the sentence of condemnation. Pieri went first to exe-
cution. He died noisily, repeating in a jerky, stammer-
ing voice, the Chant des Girondins. Orsini came after
him, calm, silent, uttering two sentences only: Vive la
France ! Viva Italia I He died, as he had always lived,
The Billault Ministry fell with the regicides. The
Emperor replaced it with that of General Espinasse.
M. Pietri yielded his place as Prefect of Police to
M. Boitelle, an ex-captain of lancers.
As for me, when chance and the information derived
from Mme. X enabled me to play so active a part
in the capture of the conspirators, I became a hero
among the staff of the Chateau ; I stood even higher
than the Corsicans. It depended only on my own will
122 MEMOIRS OF
whether I should be specially attached to the person of
His Majesty, and take the place of Baron Griscelli, dis-
missed, like my Prefect, in consequence of the Orsini
affair. But I refused all employment which might com-
promise my independence and give me a party character,
which my adversaries, however, did not fail to give me,
under the Commune, to satisfy their hatred and rancour.
I contented myself by accepting, in 1859, as a reward
for my services, the position of Chief of Police \chefde la
police de surete, i. e. the criminal and detective police].
This situation, on account of my tastes, my tempera-
ment, and my character, was to be, I felt, the culmina-
tion of my career.
As a result of the various negotiations that I had on
this subject with the Bacciochi and the Hyrvoix, I came
to know the famous cabinet noir (called chambre noire
during the Empire), which, under the other reigns, was
never so near the throne as it now was. In spite of
the burning of the Tuileries, there can still be seen, on
the side towards the quay and next to the new Louvre,
a small tower standing back from the angle of the
pavilion of the palace. It was by a staircase in that
tower that the Corsicans, the Alessandris, and the Gris-
cellis, attached to the person of His Majesty, went up
to the chambre noire under instructions from M. La-
grange (Chief of the Political Police), from the Prefect,
and from the Minister of the Interior. The Italian Prin-
cess, the Prussian Duchess, and Mme. X often took
the same way; and so, likewise, did Orsini's sister after
the attempt of January 14.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 123
It was by that staircase that I, too, went to tell the
chamberlains of His Majesty that my ambition was not
to take the place of those who, in the affair of the
bombs, had so ill-guarded the Emperor. It was after
having thus been in the chambre noire that I passed
through the Tuileries to install myself as officer of the
peace at the Prefecture of Police.
From that period a new career was opened to me,
full of dramatic incidents due to the celebrated thieves
and assassins which my duty required me to hunt
down before delivering them over to the assizes.
BERANGER — HIS FUNERAL
IN 1857, while I was still commissary at Menilmon-
tant and at the theatres, political refugees, who
dreamed of vengeance for December, kept the fau-
bourgs in a state of unrest. The police of M. Lagrange
were worn out tracking from London to Paris the emis-
saries of Mazzini and Ledru-Rollin.
At this period, which was scarcely a year before the
catastrophe at the Opera, a so-called refugee, in other
words a police spy, the daily companion of Ledru-Rol-
lin, came from London to Paris to inform the Prefect-
ure that Beranger having just died, the London com-
mittees had dispatched delegates with orders to turn
the funeral of the national poet into a great popular
manifestation. In my quality as commissary of the
quarter in which these delegates were to act, I was
charged with the duty of seeing that the respectful
homage which France desired to pay to the poet of
the Republic and the Empire did not degenerate into
a collision, as the victims of December fondly hoped.
I, who had known Beranger personally under rather
singular circumstances, knew how he dreaded the noise
of his fame. I therefore determined to take every care
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 125
that the legitimate homage of the people for their poet
should not be degraded by a scandal.
I must here tell how it was I came to know Beran-
ger. Not long before his death I was summoned to the
central office and ordered to search for an escaped
prisoner whom I had arrested six months earlier. He
was a very clever swindler who claimed to be a mer-
chant and broker. After establishing several brokerage
offices, where he obtained thousands of francs from ig-
norant and credulous persons under pretence of invest-
ment, he was condemned to three years' imprisonment.
The scamp had now managed to escape. Information
was sent to me from the central office that he had re-
turned to Paris and was junketing in the Latin quarter
as a rich student and consorting with very questionable
ladies at Bullier's and the Cafe Mazarin.
As I had known my individual for a long time and
had not forgotten either his face or his general appear-
ance, I assured my colleagues that I should easily find
" Take care," replied the central commissary, smiling,
u that rascal is very clever; he has as many tricks in his
bag as a monkey. Don't sell your bear's grease before
you have killed your bear."
This remark put me on my mettle. I was accus-
tomed to trust chiefly to myself in all difficult arrests,
and I now resolved, out of vanity, to rely on my own
experience, and personally to capture the scamp who,
so far, had eluded the police and defied the magistracy.
One evening, on receiving certain information, I went
126 MEMOIRS OF
alone to the Closerie des Lilas at the hour when the
dancing is at its height. I had no difficulty in discover-
ing my man, seated among a swarm of pretty girls and
bewitching danseuses, whom I knew to be the beauties
most in vogue in the Latin quarter.
Convinced that there are but two ways of getting the
better of a cunning enemy — surprise and audacity
— I walked straight to where my rascal was seated.
I walked slowly, with steady steps, my eyes on the eyes
of my man. He was a dark-skinned, handsome fellow,
with a face as brazen as it was cynical. I saw by an
imperceptible sign that he recognized me. He turned
pale — he was mine!
I was almost near enough to capture him, when I
saw him bend to the ear of one of his companions.
Instantly all the girls surrounded me and stood in
a feverish, excited, ardent phalanx before me. They
formed an impenetrable barrier behind which my rascal
escaped, while the whole swarm of beauties pressed
eagerly upon me, crying out :
" Beranger ! It is Beranger ! "
That magic name produced upon the youthful spirits
there present the effect of an electric spark. All the
dancers of the establishment stopped dancing and sur-
rounded me with acclamations ; the students, the young
girls rushed from the groves, some bearing bouquets,
others glass in hand. I was literally covered with
flowers, while the whole place rang with shouts, a hun-
dred times repeated, of Vive Beranger I Vive Beranger !
I was aghast, and yet I understood the trick of my
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 127
clever scoundrel. On the point of being collared by me,
he had recourse to this shrewd game, which must have
succeeded even better than he expected. I certainly
had some points of resemblance to the illustrious song-
maker, or the whole world of students and grisettes in
the Latin quarter would not have fallen so readily into
his trap. I was as bald as the poet at that time ; and at
all times I have had a certain good-natured, sympathetic
benevolence in my appearance, such as the portraits of
Beranger show to this day.
Well ! if the youth of Paris countersigned the inten-
tional error of my clever scamp, I owed it to my resemb-
lance to the poet. Though I was tricked, I was well
tricked. It was not for me to own to these young giddy-
pates that I was not Beranger, but Claude the police-
man, the agent of all the prosecutors, judges, lawyers,
who, under the Restoration, had done so much harm to
their idol. For my dignity, as well as for that of the
poet, I could not destroy the pedestal that this brave
and gallant youth had raised to its hero. I escaped
from the ovation, which was becoming delirious, under
an avalanche of flowers, and while the orchestra was
playing, in my honour, the well-known air of Beranger's
The next day all the newspapers related the visit of
Beranger to the Closerie des Li/as. " The poet of * Li-
sette ' and ' Fretillon' had gone to revive his genius,"
they said, "amid the youth of France." As for me,
I took good care not to relate to my colleagues the
ovation I had received at the instigation of their
128 MEMOIRS OF
shrewd delinquent, whom, by the way, I captured soon
But I did earnestly desire that the illustrious song-
writer, whose character I respected as much as I revered
his genius, should not feel insulted by the misuse of his
name. Accordingly, after reading the articles I have
mentioned in the press, I called at his house, 3 rue de
Vendome/now rue Beranger, I asked to speak with him
in private, not sending in my name, because I thought
that Beranger must be annoyed by this ridiculous
story, told in all the newspapers, and might refuse to
see a police officer, fearing some further annoyance.
I was received by an old man with bent head and
a shrewd smile, that recalled to me the simple, old-
fashioned countenance I had seen in the frontispieces
of his various works. For a moment, moved by this
sight of the poet of our national glories, I could not
speak. Then I explained the purpose of my visit ; I gave
my name, and related the successful trick by which,
like the ass laden with relics, I had been compelled to
usurp his great name ; adding that I had now come
to offer my excuses.
At this the old man burst into a roar of laughter
with such gusto that my idol fell shivered from the
pedestal on which I had long placed it. Evidently
my face betrayed displeasure at this hilarity, which
seemed to me almost offensive, for the good man sud-
denly checked it, and said :
"My dear sir, I am no more Beranger than you
w r ere. If I take his place and receive his visitors occa-
PIERRE JEAN DE BERANGER
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 129
sionally, it is to save him from importunate persons,
coming from all .parts of France, who assume the right
to force themselves upon him on the pretext of pre-
senting their homage."
" Then, may I ask who you are ? " I said, still rather
" Benjamin Antier," he replied.
" The author of ' Robert Macaire '? "
" Precisely," he answered. " You will easily under-
stand that no one could live fifty years with a friend,
sharing his tastes and his solitude, without acquiring
something of his personal appearance."
He said no more, but went to the door of the next
room and called his friend.
Beranger entered, leaning on the arm of an aged
woman. I own that at first I felt a certain disenchant-
ment on beholding a decrepit old man, with tottering
steps, a withered face, glaucous eyes, and a pendant
But presently, athwart these ravages of age, I saw
in those faded eyes a poet's gleam, on that broad,
bare brow a pure, serene light that seemed the halo of
a man so simple and so great. A certain majesty was
thus imprinted on his features, worn by illness. I saw
the man of peace, of silence, and of meditation ; the
man averse to noise, even the noise of his own fame ;
living a wholly interior life, declining all outward
expansion the better to abide in the sweet intimacy
of a few friends. Time had now left him but two of
these — Benjamin Antier, the first and last companion
i 3 o MEMOIRS OF
of his studies and his pleasures, with whom he wrote
his first song; and Mme. Judith, his last Lisette, his
Bonne Vieille, the inspirer of his last poem :
You will age, my tender mistress,
You must age, and I must die ;
Time for me, with its cruel swiftness,
Goes twice as fast as in days gone by.
When the languor of years o'ertakes you,
To my lessons still be true ; —
Dear old friend ! in your chimney corner
Repeat the songs that I sang to you.
Eyes will seek beneath your wrinkles
The lovely face that inspired my song ;
Youth, in its eagerness, pressing round you,
Will say : " Who was he she has wept so long ? "
Tell them then of my love and its ardour,
Its doubts, its fears, and its passion true, —
Dear old friend ! in your chimney corner,
Sing them the songs that I made for you.
When they say to you : " Was he kind ? "
I hear you answer : " I loved him so ! "
" Was he unfaithful in heart or mind ? "
Proudly your lips will ring out : " No ! "
Ah ! tell the young of his joyous zither,
Tender and sensitive, loving and true, —
Dear old friend ! in your chimney corner
Sing them the songs that I sang to you.
You, whom I taught to weep for France,
Say to the sons of her latest fame,
That I sang her glory, the glory of France,
To comfort and help her in days of shame.
Call to their minds the terrible blast
That carried our laurels the wide world through, —
Then, old friend ! in your chimney corner
Sing them the songs that I sang to you.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 131
Dear, cherished heart ! when my futile fame
Soothes the pain of declining years,
When your feeble hands my portrait frame
With flowers that bloom in spite of tears,
Lift your eyes to the unseen world,
Where we shall be one who now are two, —
Dear old friend ! in your chimney corner
Repeat the songs I have sung to you. 1
When I explained to Beranger the object of my
visit, asking him humbly if I should correct the mis-
take of the newspapers, caused by the trick of my
rascal, he replied, in a sweet, sympathetic voice :
" Ah, monsieur ! why undeceive the young ? Dis-
illusion comes soon enough. We, ourselves, do we
not live to our last hour in errors ? They were happy,
those young people, in believing that they saw me.
Leave them in that error. They will know too many
more before they die."
I left him. He bowed to me, like a patriarch blessing
a man whom he sees for the first and last time at the
close of his career.
This visit to Beranger — his fading eyes, his totter-
ing steps supported by his bonne vieille — affected me
deeply. When, therefore, on the occasion of his death,
the democratic party sought to make him a brand of
discord to provoke a riot, I took strong measures to
protect his funeral. The Emperor sent his carriages
and his household guard, with loaded rifles ; and I
warned my strong force of police to watch each cor-
poration of workmen, as it marched with banners flying,
and prevent them from breaking the line of the guard.
1 A liberal, not a literal, translation.
132 MONSIEUR CLAUDE
I, myself, mingled with the crowd and soon discov-
ered under many an "International" blouse, wreathed
with immortelles, a Mazzinian dagger. As we neared
the canal Saint-Martin, I perceived that the crowd
was swelling more and more, and trying, by advancing
single file, to surround the hearse. An inspiration then
came to me which I communicated to the officers of
the guard, who, seeing the critical position in which
the delegates from the London committees were striv-
ing to place them, accepted it eagerly.
The guard held back the crowd at the narrow
entrance to the bridge, and the moment the hearse had
passed the centre of it, they swung the drawbridge
open. Thus the way to Pere-Lachaise was clear to
none but Beranger himself, his friends, and the car-
riages and guards of the Emperor. The London com-
mittees were foiled, and the poet was buried as he had
lived — in silence and serenity, far from the noise of
even his own glory.
JUD, THE MYSTERIOUS ASSASSIN OF A
JUDGE OF THE IMPERIAL COURT
IN i860, imperial France was happy — apparently.
Our conquests in Italy, giving us Nice and a part
of Savoy, lent the Empire a prestige that dazzled
common minds. It was not, however, necessary to be
a great seer to perceive that each step forward in the
haphazard policy of an emperor of expedients brought
him one step nearer to his fall.
One cannot give to others what one denies to one's
self. The Emperor, by killing in France the liberty on
which he had risen, could not labour seriously for the
independence of other nations. The prestige which, in
the eyes of the people, shone around the self-interested
supporters of the December-trap, excited only envy
in foreign countries, particularly in Prussia. Prussia
had already stopped our Emperor in Italy. In i860,
the Prussian Chancellor, who owed his European au-
thority, in the first instance, to the policy of Napoleon
III, was working, out of hatred for the latter, not to
give him, as did Victor Emmanuel, a share of the cake.
Bismarck was waiting, on the contrary, for the hour
when he could get Alsace away from him, in defiance
134 MEMOIRS OF
of the duties of gratitude which obliged him to return
to France her former Rhine provinces in acknowledge-
ment of the services which Napoleon III, by his atti-
tude towards Austria, had rendered to King William.
But in diplomacy, gratitude is a puerile word, void of
meaning, especially to Prince Bismarck.
Towards the end of i860, the most prosperous and
flourishing period of the imperial reign, a great crime
darkened its horizon with a heavy cloud that alarmed
even the most enthusiastic upholders of the new re-
gime. This crime was the first thunder-bolt, the first
mysterious protestation, falling upon that imperial
world, to remind it of its bloody and baneful origin.
A magistrate, a judge of the Imperial Court, and very
devoted to the Emperor, M. Poinsot, was assassinated
in a railway carriage on the Eastern Railroad by a man
named Jud, an Alsatian and a native of the Upper
The assassin, travelling alone at night with the judge,
had been able to do the deed and escape from the car-
riage without leaving any trace of himself. It was not
until the train reached Paris that the compartment in
which M. Poinsot travelled was opened and his body
discovered. The facts, so far as known, were immedi-
ately sent to the Prefecture, and confided to me as
chief of the criminal and detective police. I was sum-
moned to the office of the Imperial Procureur [prose-
cutor] and ordered by the Prefect to put all my
agents and myself at work to discover the unknown
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 135
This order was given to me on the 10th of December,
the murder having been committed on the night of the
5th and 6th. Thus the murderer had ample time to
escape detection. When the body was discovered, the
brain exuded on all sides. The murderer had fired two
shots from a revolver, one taking effect in the temple and
coming out on the opposite side of the head ; the other
near the heart, but this ball was found in the clothes.
Judging by the articles that were evidently missing,
robbery appeared to be the motive of the crime, the
criminal himself remaining a myth.
On the other hand, it seemed as though a certain re-
lation must have existed between the murderer and the
victim. From the way in which the wounds were given
it was evident that the murderer, before committing
the crime, had held the judge in his power, and that
the two must have had some intercourse during the
night. What could have been the nature of that con-
versation between a miserable assassin and a person-
age of so much importance as M. Poinsot? Here was
a mystery. There was no doubt that the criminal was
very inferior in position to the judge, for on the seat
beside the body they found a muffler, evidently left
by the murderer, of a kind that is not worn in France.
This muffler and a very common snuff-box, also left in
the carriage, were valuable indications for me, but the
Could it be that M. Poinsot, who was not known to
have an enemy, could he be the victim of a bloody ill
will, of an odious vengeance ? Here was another pro-
136 MEMOIRS OF
blem to add to the rest. M. Poinsot was in great favour
and the most respected of all the magistrates. No one
held higher than he a sense of the duties and respons-
ibilities attached to the function of judging others.
Very much liked at the Chateau, he owed the wel-
come he received at Court to the uprightness of his
He had been in his present position, as judge of the
Imperial Court, eight years, when on a Saturday, taking
advantage of Sunday being a holiday, he went to his
country-seat in the department of the Aube, to receive
his rents. Having done so, he started to return, as I
have said, by the Eastern Railroad. On the arrival of
the train in Paris his dead body, still warm, was found.
Consternation was general. It was shown even by
the crowd in the streets when the funeral of this great
magistrate took place at the Church of Saint-Louis
d'Antin. Out of respect to a colleague whose honoured
life had ended in so tragic a manner, all the judges of
the fourth chamber, wearing their robes, together with
other high officials, accompanied the coffin. After the
religious services, the body was taken to the Eastern
Railroad, and conveyed to Chaource, the estate M.
Poinsot had visited so recently. All our noted lawyers,
even those in the ranks of the Opposition, made it a
matter of duty to accompany the remains of a man who
stood high among all parties for the loftiness of his
mind and the importance of his office. Jules Favre
and Berryer were among them.
As the partisan spirit does not disarm even before
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 137
an open grave, Jules Favre said to Berryer, who was
beside him :
" This is what it costs to stand too well with the
I was in the funeral procession, and I overheard
those words. I was there, I must own, less to do honour
to the deceased than to gather the remarks of those
who knew M. Poinsot, and thus obtain, if possible,
some clue as to the cause of the murder. I put myself
intentionally among his political adversaries, because
I knew by experience that it is not the friends of a
dead man who unveil the secrets of his life.
Lucky for me that I mingled with the group around
Jules Favre and heard those bitter words of the bitter-
est of our lawyers ! They were to me a flash of light.
They sent a gleam upon this affair into which I could
not see clearly, even after my multitudinous inves-
tigations along the line of the Eastern Railway. In
vain had I sent my agents right and left from every
station along that road. Not one of them reported
anything that gave even a clue to the murderer. It
was plain that the latter, after committing the crime,
had jumped from the carriage to the track, and had
done so hastily — the muffler and the snuff-box left
behind him proved his haste.
But how could a man jump from an express train,
running at high speed, without risking his life or break-
ing his legs. The body of his victim being still warm
when discovered showed that the crime had been com-
mitted near Paris. But why had the murderer waited
138 MEMOIRS OF
until then instead of profiting by the time when the
train was crossing the open country ?
I explained to myself this discordance on examining
the line. The man must have jumped from the carriage
near Noisy. The express train does not stop at Noisy,
but it slackens speed there sufficiently to allow a man
to jump to the ground without breaking his legs. Had
the assassin made for Paris ? or had he fled through
the country to reach the province of which he was a
native — judging by the muffler made in a Mulhausen
factory, and by the snuff-box, which I recognized as
a product of the region of the Black Forest ?
I left my agents exploring the most suspicious parts
of Paris, searching the lodging-houses and pawn-shops,
to discover some traces of the murderer, while I my-
self went, as I have said, with the funeral of the judge
to Chaource, his estate in the country. There I learned
from his confidential valet that on the Sunday even-
ing, as M. Poinsot was preparing to return to Paris,
he was visited by an individual whom the servant de-
scribed to me. The conversation between this person
and M. Poinsot had lasted a quarter of an hour, and
the servant told me that the subject of it must have
been important to detain his master, who was already
in a hurry to get to the train.
I was now on the scent of the murderer. Whence
came he? From Alsace, no doubt; his muffler told
that. To venture to present himself to M. Poinsot and
be admitted, being, as he was, a very common man,
showed that the pretext for his visit was serious. That
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 139
this high magistrate should spend a quarter of an hour
talking to a poor wretch at the risk of losing his train
showed that the man had some powerful reason that
compelled it. The words of Jules Favre came suddenly
back to me :
11 This is what it costs to stand well with the Cha-
Yes, politics might, perhaps, have something to do
with the shocking event. Once more — what relations
could possibly exist between this important personage
and this unknown man? I determined to solve that
mystery in the first place. In spite of the grief that
overwhelmed the family, I decided to make known my
name and mission to the nearest relatives. From them
I learned that M. Poinsot had not gone to Chaource
solely for the purpose of receiving his rents, but also
to obtain certain papers which, he had informed them,
concerned the Chateau.
There was the explanation of Jules Favre's words !
In virtue of my discretionary powers, I opened the
strong-box in which M. Poinsot habitually kept State
papers, which, he was wont to say, might some day or
other be useful to him as a magistrate and serve to
throw light upon the more obscure affairs of the Em-
pire. In addition to these papers he kept in the same
box the money he received in banknotes from his rents.
When the strong-box was opened there was nothing
there ; the State papers as well as the banknotes had
been removed ; probably M. Poinsot had placed them in
the varnished leather bag he had carried in his hand.
140 MEMOIRS OF
That bag, having been taken by the murderer, was
another explanation of M. Favre's words. The robber-
assassin was something other than a murderous thief.
I returned to Paris with a careful description of the
man, whom the valet had had time to examine before
M. Poinsot left the house. I made my report to the
Prefect and then proceeded to look through the police
registers. I had already recalled the fact that about three
months earlier a deserter from the 3d dragoon regi-
ment named Jud, had committed a crime similar to
that committed on M. Poinsot. On the 18th of Septem-
ber, i860, this Jud had killed a Russian army surgeon
in a railway carriage between Zilischeim and Ilfurth, by
shooting him through the head with a revolver. Being
captured in his native town of Ferrette, this Jud man-
aged to escape by knocking down three of the gaolers.
Since then the police had been unable to find him, but
his description tallied in every respect with that given
me of M. Poinsot's murderer. Evidently the criminal of
Noisy could be no other than the Jud of Ferrette.
Not a day had passed since the murder that reports
of his discovery were not sent in only to be denied be-
fore night. One day he was thought to be found at Bar-
le-Duc; another day at Bixheim,orat Mulhausen, or at
Troyes. But each and all of these Juds were released
as soon as arrested. The public was beginning to con-
sider Jud as a will-o'-the-wisp, scoffing at the police ;
and as for us, he became a thorn in our sides. The
Opposition was delighted with our want of success.
Unable to attack the Government directly, they fell
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 141
foul of its subalterns ; the servants were thrashed for
the masters. Jud was the rod with which they flayed
the Empire in the persons of its humblest supporters.
He became the grotesque incarnation of Imperialism,
just as Robert Macaire and Mayeux had personified
Weary of the ill success of my agents, I resolved to go
myself to Alsace and find in Jud's own region indica-
tions that would satisfy me better than those I received
in Paris. I informed the Prefect and the examining judge
of my intention, and they gave me carte blanche. Before
starting I obtained the services of an agent, a former
non-commissioned officer, whose courage was beyond all
doubt. A native of Alsace, he knew the country well and
could be a great help to me as guide.
I also paid a visit to the clerk of the examining judge
\Juge dinstruction\ to tell him that I should send to
him daily the results of my researches. This man, also
a native of Alsace, had a gift of penetration coupled with
envy which he artfully concealed under an appearance
of open-hearted good-nature. When I told him of my
journey and its object, he looked at me curiously and
" May you never repent doing what has never been
done before in this administration."
A doubt crossed my mind, and I regretted having
spoken to him so freely. I made a motion that did not
escape his subtle observation, and he added with an
; "Well, a good journey to you, Monsieur Claude;
i 4 2 MEMOIRS OF
may you be rewarded for your zeal, which will hurt
our chiefs — but, I understand ! duty before every-
I started for Ferrette [in the Upper Rhine, district of
Mulhausen] accompanied by my agent, whom I knew to
be a determined man. I was aware, through the police
reports of those regions, that the German frontier was
kept agitated and stirred up by Prussians. But what
I did not know was that those reports were far below
the truth. I was better informed by the time I reached
Mulhausen. Prussia, envious of our conquests, was ex-
citing the ancient rancour of Protestants against Cath-
olics with a view to a revenge which, far from restoring
to us the Rhenish provinces, would recover from us
Alsace and Lorraine, and throw us back into the
critical position of Louis XIV, when expiating in his
day a passage of the Rhine.
On arriving at Mulhausen with my agent, we were
both much astonished by what we saw and heard. The
Italian victories excited no enthusiasm. Outside of the
official world I found a population concerned only
about the commercial disturbance caused by the change
of frontier. In the Upper Rhine religious fanaticism
was being roused by jealous Prussia. The Protestants
formed a band apart from the Catholics, and proclaimed
themselves openly against the conquest policy of the
new Empire. Under pretext of progress and of human-
ity, the richest Protestants of the annexed region re-
newed against the Catholics the old feuds of the
seventeenth century. They pointedly recalled that Mul-
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 143
hausen before Louis XIV and Napoleon I was a "free
city." I could see in these politico-religious divisions
the hand of Prussia preparing to act at the moment
when France, exhausted, could not sustain, as she did
under Louis XIV and Napoleon, the first brilliant on-
slaught of Prussian arms.
An incident to which I did not at the moment attach
its due importance opened my eyes to the underground
work of Prussia in Protestant Alsace. We had scarcely
reached Mulhausen, when my agent, a Crimean vet-
eran, was apostrophized in a beer-shop by a knot of
Baden Protestants. He made some light joke in reply
to the remark of a Baden man, supposing that all the
beer-drinkers about him would laugh on his side. Great
was his amazement when he perceived that the Baden
man had the whole gallery with him.
This man was an officer. He challenged my man.
The latter would willingly have drawn his sword on the
spot had not the duty on which he was employed for-
bidden it. An appointment was made for the next day.
As we were to leave that evening for Altkirch and
Ferrette my companion thought it useless to inform
the officer's seconds that his position as a police officer
forbade his accepting a challenge.
When he told me of this unlucky affair, he said he
had noticed that this German had kept an eye on him
from the two last stations before reaching Mulhausen,
and that he seemed to have entered the beer-shop in
search of him. I had myself observed the same thing;
and I now thought it was high time to get away from
i 4 4 MEMOIRS OF
Mulhausen. For the first time, the words of the Alsa-
tian clerk came back to me:
" May you never repent your zeal."
For the first time, also, since approaching the fron-
tiers of Germany, the crime committed on a judge of
the Imperial Court changed in aspect. I comprehended,
after seeing the spirit of the population, that Jud
might have been something else than a mere common
murderer ; namely, a spy of the Prussian Government.
I was soon to be convinced of it.
We started from Mulhausen on horseback, and after
riding some hours to reach the Ballons des Vosges, we
were overtaken in a valley by the Baden officer and his
seconds. They had evidently followed on our traces.
It was growing dark. The three men fell upon us, and
before we could defend ourselves, my agent was killed ;
the Baden man had run him through the heart with
a sword, crying out :
" Coward ! you are running away, and I kill you !"
At the same moment I was seized by the other two
men, gagged, blindfolded, and dragged up the moun-
tain. When they loosed me and unbound my eyes, and
I recovered my senses, I found myself in a sort of hut
or cabin occupied by several officers in Prussian uni-
form. They were sitting round a table on which lay
maps of the country. One, who appeared to be chief of
the party, resembled by his stiff, constrained manner
a knight of the Middle Ages. He said to me with an
obsequious, almost benevolent smile :
" Monsieur Claude, compose yourself. No harm will
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 145
be done to you. If your agent is dead, it is his own fault.
He ought not to have wounded the national feelings of
our former compatriots. Alsace has been German, and
will be German again : be sure of that."
I tried to reply and protest. Then the officer changed
in manner; he assumed that air of harsh command
peculiar to Teutons when they have no need to coax
" I have said enough, Monsieur Claude, to show you
that you cannot continue your search. Your spies are
spied upon. You know now what we do when they try
their strength against ours. We should be sorry, how-
ever, as gentlemen, to treat you as we treated that fel-
low. Return to Paris. We know what you came to do
at Ferrette; your scheme is useless. Jud is no longer
there ; he is in a foreign country. He is no longer Jud;
he bears another name. Go! but I tell you this: if you
continue your search, if, by sheer impossibility, you
return safe and sound from Ferrette, you will be pun-
ished in Paris for your excess of zeal. The Emperor of
the French himself will not be grateful for it. A mag-
istrate like M. Poinsot died because he tried to pene-
trate state secrets. Jud killed him. Are you likely to
be more fortunate ? Now that you are free — reflect ! "
I had no time to answer before the whole party dis-
appeared, and I was alone. Amazed and dumbfounded
by the strange things produced around me as if by a
thunderbolt, I hastened to leave the hut. Still doubting
what I had seen and heard, I ran down into the valley
and called my agent; I could not yet believe that he
146 MEMOIRS OF
was dead. He was not there ; even his body had disap-
peared. I have never known since what became of it.
I hastened, almost beside myself, my mind greatly
troubled, to return to Mulhausen. There I found the
city in a state of rejoicing contrasting painfully with
the cruel drama just enacted before my eyes. I was told
that General Moltke had arrived with his daughter on
their way to the Vosges ; and the German city of Mul-
hausen was joyful and festal, as the French and Catholic
city had not ventured to be after our victories in Italy.
I understood it all. With anger and shame in my
heart, I returned to Paris. I saw the Prefect, I saw the
Imperial Procurateur, and I wrote at the bottom of my
proces-verbal on Jud, the murderer of a French judge :
" Nothing to be done ! "
I shall explain, when I come to speak of the Trop-
mann case, what still remains mysterious in the murder
of M. Poinsot, who died, like Kinck, for knowing too
much about the underhand actions of Prussia, covetous
of Alsace now that France possessed Savoy.
In spite of my ill-success in finding Jud, in spite of
my disheartening return to Paris without the agent
whom I had left murdered in the Vosges, this adventure
had no bad consequences for me. When I told my
Prefect the unexpected events of my terrible journey,
I saw a man greatly embarrassed by my statement. He
begged me to tell it to no one, to keep from the judges
and the courts all knowledge of the mysterious and
This silence, which I was warned to keep " in my own
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 147
interest," produced a most painful impression upon me.
I suffered in my professional dignity, and I suffered
still more in my pride as a Frenchman. Alas ! I began
to see that our country and its sovereign were strong
in appearance only, and that France was being made
to pay for its return to despotism by subservience to
foreign nations. For having, in memory of a glorious
Napoleon, delivered herself over to a crooked nephew
\_neveu retors\ France was now in the power of foreign
despots more cruel and far more able than Napoleon
All things are paid for here below, sooner or later:
Louis-Philippe, mounting the throne from a barricade,
came down from it by a barricade ; Napoleon I, born
under English guns in Corsica, died chained by Eng-
lishmen to the rock of Saint Helena. If Napoleon III,
borne by a crime to the Tuileries, on millions borrowed
from the Bank of France and millions filched from
a courtesan, was to be punished according to his deeds,
what destiny was reserved for him — and for France ?
Such were the reflections that I made to myself after
Jud's murder of M. Poinsot — a murder about which
no further inquiry was made. I recapitulated to myself
the crimes of the Empire since the Coup d "Etat, — crimes
which, for the most part, were the consequences of that
action : the poisoning of Marechal Saint-Arnaud ; the
death of Cornemuse; the murders of Kelch and the
Prince de C ; the disappearance of Miss Howard ;
the hanging of Sinibaldi in Mazas; the drowning of
Morelli at Bordeaux, etc.
i 4 8 MEMOIRS OF
The abduction and end of Miss Howard (so called),
the handsome English woman who lent eight millions
to Prince Louis Bonaparte to play the role of Pretender
and to carry him from the Elysee to the Tuileries,
proves how unsafe it was to trust to the security of
On the eve of his marriage Napoleon III was much
embarassed by Miss Howard on account of this loan,
and also because of the son whom Miss Howard had
borne him. Moreover, she was taking upon herself the
attitudes, alternately, of empress and tigress. Until
the very eve of the marriage she refused to believe in
Mademoiselle de Montijo's good luck, being convinced
that the Emperor was only fooling her rival.
Mocquart, the Emperor's confidant, and the right
hand of the Due de Morny, encouraged her in this con-
viction, and the nearer the wedding-day came the more
he deluded her. Mocquart, who, by the way, under
the auspices of Mazzini, had been, with Dr. Conneau,
chiefly instrumental in delivering Prince Louis from
Ham, seeing that the only way to prevent the jealous
English woman from making a public scandal on the
day of the marriage was to remove her, persuaded
her to go with him to Havre under a promise that the
Emperor would join her there. While eating her break-
fast on the day she expected the Emperor she read
an account of the wedding ceremonies in the Journal
Officiel Instantly she left the Hotel Frascati, obtained
a locomotive, and rushed to Paris, where she was met
by the spectacle of her house ransacked by the police.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 149
Furniture, cushions, letters, papers, contracts,
slashed, torn, mutilated, lay pell-mell upon the floor,
while several of the latter were stolen, among them
the Emperor's promissory note for the millions which
he had borrowed from his mistress.
The Prefect, M. Pietri, warned from Havre by a dis-
patch from Mocquart of Miss Howard's arrival, reached,
almost as soon as she did, her house in the rue du
Cirque, which his agents had just finished rifling.
He and his secretary heard with their own ears the
vehement English woman call the Emperor " swindler!
thief ! murderer ! "
The next morning, as soon as she woke, Miss
Howard (whose real name was Elizabeth Faucit) was
saluted by two men, one a banker, the other a general,
with the title of Comtesse de Beauregard. Acting for the
Due de Morny, they presented her with the title-deeds
of the Chateau de Beauregard, an estate lying close to
Versailles. But this payment of her millions did not
placate her. To defy the Empress she drove in the
Bois in an open carriage with servants in the imperial
livery ; and for some time all Paris was diverted, at the
races and on the avenues, by the presence of " the two
This caper was costly to Miss Howard. She was
abducted one night and taken to the frontier. Nothing
more was ever heard of her. It was said, however, that
she was smothered in her bed. 1
1 Her son by Louis Napoleon died at the Chateau de Beauregard in
i 5 o MEMOIRS OF
Jules Favre had good reason to exclaim, as he did
beside the body of M. Poinsot :
" It is not safe to stand well with the Chateau."
Long before the death of M. Poinsot, too close con-
tact with the Tuileries had brought disaster to Marechal
Saint-Arnaud. Perhaps it is not useless to relate the
events which preceded and brought about the death of
that hero of the Crimea, whose end, according to the
last words of that accomplice of the Coup cTEtat, "had
no example in history."
Some little time before the Crimean War, Saint-
Arnaud, who had felt no scruples when betraying the
Duchesse de Berry, when robbing the Arabs, when put-
ting in prison his chiefs who could have sent him to
the galleys, Saint-Arnaud felt a tardy remorse when
his new chiefs reproached him for his felonies, and
especially when Napoleon showed himself no longer
grateful for his services.
Saint-Arnaud then reminded his sovereign of a cer-
tain terrible little packet which the latter had given him
on the eve of the Coup d'Etat, containing orders to
burn Paris if Paris did not bow to the new Caesar. The
Emperor yielded before that threat, but only to await
the hour when Saint-Arnaud, bold from impunity,
should commit other peccadilloes that would compel the
Emperor to punish him before the eyes of the Court.
The Marechal did not keep him waiting very long.
One morning he took from the Emperor's own room
a purse full of bank-bills, which lay on the marble chim-
ney-piece. His Majesty soon discovered the theft. Only
LEROY DE SAINT- ARNA1 I >
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 151
three men had been in the room : Cornemuse, Saint-
Arnaud, and the ex-King Jerome. The Emperor sent
for the Prefect of Police, Pietri, who had lately suc-
ceeded Maupas before being himself replaced by Boi-
telle, after the affair of the Orsini bombs. To him the
Emperor related the theft of which he was the victim.
" Who has been in the room, Majesty ? " asked
11 Cornemuse," replied Napoleon.
" Hu ! hu ! " exclaimed Pietri, shaking his head doubt-
fully, and adding:
" Ho ! ho ! " said the Prefect in a sharper tone ; " leave
out Cornemuse — Well," he added, " anybody after
King Jerome ? "
"Ha! ha!" cried Pietri eagerly; "leave out King
Jerome also ; useless to look any further. Of course it
is the Marechal. My opinion is fixed. To convince your
Majesty it is only necessary to confront Cornemuse and
Saint-Arnaud — inasmuch as, out of respect for the
Empire, we can't summon King Jerome."
No sooner said than done. Cornemuse and Saint-
Arnaud defended themselves from the imputation in
presence of the Emperor. From insults they passed
to provocation, until they fought almost under the eyes
of the sovereign, and General Cornemuse fell, mortally
When Napoleon talked of punishing the murderer,
152 MONSIEUR CLAUDE
Saint-Arnaud took to flight ; but he went no farther than
Antibes, whence he again threatened his master with
the terrible packet containing the orders of December,
written and signed " L. N. Bonaparte," enjoining him,
in case of failure, to burn Paris \incendier Paris] .
Saint-Arnaud returned from Antibes and resumed
his portfolio as Minister of War. In it lay his death-
warrant. He took it only to become, shortly after, com-
mander-in-chief of the Army of the Crimea. He left
France ill, consumed by an unknown malady ■ — not
unknown to him, nor to the man who had given him
The gaoler of Blaye, the victor at the Alma, went to
die as a hero, after living as an adventurer. Con-
demned by his accomplice, an adventurer like himself,
he was purified by martyrdom.
GAMBLERS AND GAMBLING-HOUSES
EVERYBODY amused him or herself under the
Empire ; princes and profligates, gamblers and
wantons, they all joined hands to dance a dishev-
elled saraband, the first notes of which sounding in the
highest society, descended thence, to be lost among
the populace. Many of these people, of all ranks, lived
solely by the product of vice and gambling. The po-
lice were often hard put to it in the clubs (which were
really nothing else than gambling-hells disguised) to
distinguish grecs [sharpers] from princes. Each day
produced its scandal, which I was forced to hush up
lest public opinion should become excited.
I possessed at that period — that is to say after the
war in Italy, when a crowd of foreign " nobles "
swooped down upon Paris — two inspectors with an
infallibleyfozV for the detection of sharpers and crimps.
One was called "the Squirrel" \l"Ecureuil^ ; the other
" the Ventriloquist " \le Ventriloque\ The first was
agile as a cat ; the second artful as a monkey ; both
had a thousand and one tricks in their bag to foil the
countless schemes and decoys by which the young fools
of family were robbed.
154 MEMOIRS OF
The Squirrel knew all the clubs in Paris. Under
the most varied characters and costumes he consorted
every night with the high-priests of ecarte, piquet, rou-
lette, and baccarat. With marvellous agility worthy of
Robert Houdin he could deal the right card, giving
himself kings and aces in a way to make the Baron of
Womspire jealous. He usually frequented the "author-
ized clubs " ; that is to say, those gambling-houses
which, under the direction of the Minister of the Inte-
rior, took the place during the Empire of the public
gambling-houses, closed under Louis-Philippe.
The Squirrel was known to the managers of all these
authorized clubs, who looked to him for help on certain
great occasions when they desired to protect themselves
against intruders whose play might compromise the
reputation and even the existence of their clubs.
The Ventriloquist had no such fashionable con-
nections. His specialty was to watch the clubs that
were merely "tolerated" and held under the eye of the
police. His power was less limited than that of his
colleague, by reason of the class of houses he frequented.
While the managers of the " authorized clubs " welcomed
the Squirrel as a saviour, the directors of the "tolerated
clubs " saw with alarm the entrance of the Ventriloquist.
They knew that a report of that inspector as to certain
illegal practices would close their establishment; so
that the moment he appeared, they made haste to hide
the contents of their cagnotte [osier money-box used by
Where the Ventriloquist was chiefly feared was in
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 155
the secret and clandestine gambling-hells. Into those he
would track a sharper by profession. When the game
was well under way, the words : " thief " — " swindler,"
coming from his stomach, would resound through the
room; then, in that moment of general stupefaction,
my inspector would seize both stakes and keepers of
the suspected establishment.
About the time of the expedition to Mexico, the
Ventriloquist reported to the Prefecture the opening
of a new gambling-house in the rue du Helder. It
was kept by a foreign courtesan, a beautiful Spanish
woman, now past her youth. Her former revenues failing
her, she had created others out of her old clients;
with the addition of sons of family, minors, and certain
broken gamblers, whose pockets she filled with the
money of the youths. The place was abandoned, not
closed, after a very dramatic event in which the Ven-
triloquist figured. That inspector was, however, un-
able to bring the case before the courts, because of
the influence possessed by the Spanish woman, who
held princely strings, reaching even to the steps of the
Both my gambling agents, the Squirrel and the Ven-
triloquist, had repeatedly reported to me the names of
statesmen, high in office, who had been completely
" cleaned out " by the rake of the beautiful Spaniard's
croupiers. The Ventriloquist went often to the place
to watch, especially, a certain Marquis d'Albano, an
Italian, or Spanish nobleman, who was said to have
made his fortune in the Mexican mines.
156 MEMOIRS OF
He played for high stakes in the rue du Helder.
When he had no more bank-notes to throw on the
green cloth, he laid down handfuls of precious stones
with which his pockets were crammed in case of ill
luck. It was said that these stones, spread out on the
table, were to him so many fetiches, for it was rare
that luck did not return to him as soon as he staked
them in place of gold.
The Ventriloquist reported to me that the precious
stones of the noble marquis were false. As soon as he
staked them against his partner his swindling game
began. At no cost would he have left those false stones,
which proved him a rascal, in the hands of others.
This so-called Marquis d'Albano, nicknamed the
" sapphire man," on account of the sort of stone with
which he was chiefly supplied, was, in reality, a sharper
of the worst kind who, having been driven from for-
eign gambling-houses, had come to Paris to play a last
desperate game. He was accompanied by a little old
man with an ignoble face and a crafty manner who was
called the Counsellor. Like the pretended marquis, he
was a sharper emeritus.
The sapphire man won by the means adopted by all
professional swindlers, namely, by "corner-bent" cards
[cartes biseautees\ . But the Counsellor had a far more
original dodge by which he turned the luck to his
accomplice. By the help of a tortoise-shell box very
highly polished, which never left his hand, and which
he rubbed and rubbed incessantly, he possessed a pre-
cious mirror. On the pretext of offering bonbons to
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 157
persons near him, he made the cover of the box reflect
to his associate the cards of his opponent. He thus
showed the former his proper play.
One night, when they were playing an outrageously
"crooked" game in the rue du Helder, the Ventriloquist
had quietly slipped into the room and stood watching
the proceedings. The Marquis, a man of extreme ele-
gance, in the prime of life and of dark complexion, was
seated at a table opposite to a very young man. The
latter was winning from the former, who presently, as
his custom was, declaring he had no more gold, threw
upon the table a handful of emeralds and sapphires,
and asked for his revenge, which was instantly accepted.
From that moment the luck turned in favour of the
sharper. In twenty minutes he had robbed the youth
of forty thousand francs, which he piled up in front of
him among his false stones.
The young man, in his turn, asked for his revenge,
staking the whole sum that he had lost — forty thou-
sand francs. A crowd stood around the players. The
Ventriloquist was in the front rank, never taking his
eyes from the hands of the Marquis. He saw him slip
from his sleeve a card and put it in the place of one he
held. At the moment when the Marquis was in the act
of doing this for the second time, the Ventriloquist sent
these words sounding through the room from his stom-
44 Marquis, you are a thief ! "
This unexpected cry, breaking the deep silence
caused by the importance of the game, burst like a
158 MEMOIRS OF
bomb. The young man rose from the table, indignant,
angry. The Marquis, who did not know whence the
voice came, lost countenance. He rose abruptly, leav-
ing two kings of hearts on the table.
Evidently one of the players was a swindler. A shout
of indignation came from the crowd. The Ventrilo-
quist, who, to save the young man, had caused this
salutary diversion, was about to lay hands on the Mar-
quis. Unfortunately, he reckoned without the Spanish
woman and without the Counsellor. The latter, who
had as much interest as the mistress of the house in
saving his accomplice from being caught in a bad
affair, put to profit the general confusion caused by
the accusation that seemed to come from underground.
The young man, meantime, had sprung upon the
Marquis, calling him a swindler and thief. During this
altercation, the Counsellor, protected by the woman,
profited by the moment when the chairs were noisily
knocked over and the confusion was great to slip the
marked cards from the sleeve of his accomplice into
the pocket of the youth. This proceeding, however,
the Ventriloquist did not see.
When the Marquis, saved by the Counsellor, de-
manded that both he and his opponent should be
searched to show which of them was guilty, the Ven-
triloquist was as much aghast at the result as the
young man himself, in whose pocket the marked cards
Then followed a general hubbub. The young man
thought he was the victim of some horrible nightmare.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 159
As the money he had gambled was not his own, and
as, in losing it, he, the faithless cashier of a bank, was
already guilty, he did not hesitate, under the shock of
this second accusation, to condemn himself. He left
the room, seized his sword-cane, which was in the ante-
chamber, and plunged it into his heart. Then, stagger-
ing back into the salon, he showed his bloody breast,
" Would a thief like that man" (pointing to the Mar-
quis, who was in the act of gathering up his 80,000
francs) " die thus ? "
He fell dead.
The Ventriloquist swore to avenge him ; and he did
so in the end, but not without difficulty. As for the
place in the rue du Helder, this tragedy closed it. On
an order from the Chateau to hush up the affair, its
habitues deserted it. But I was much grieved myself
to be unable to act. I was forced to content myself
with giving strict orders that the Marquis d'Albano,
the cause of the suicide, should not be lost sight of.
Since gambling-houses are no longer public, "author-
ized clubs" have become of considerable importance,
and gambling-hells are too numerous to count. The
licenses for gaming no longer enrich the public treas-
ury; on the contrary, the city spends vast sums in
watching both clubs and hells, and a special police
against these houses is forever on the alert. But in
spite of the activity of the police, the fever for play will
open twenty gambling-houses for one that they close.
Such places will never cease to exist. They were not
1 60 MEMOIRS OF
really closed in 1837, when, by a vote of the Chamber,
they were declared illegal. Nor has the race of profes-
sional gamblers disappeared. Gambling may be sup-
pressed by decree, but the passion for gambling cannot
be suppressed. Man lives on chimeras. The gambler,
who discounts nought but hope, is as eternal as hu-
A gambler never admits that he loses. He has a hor-
ror of the word loss. He meets only with a "mischance."
If, after several games, he has persistent ill luck, he says :
" I 'm involved." When he is completely ruined, he re-
signs himself to watch the play of others and give them
advice. Some regret that not a shred of their property
is left to them, all being swallowed up in a martingale
— a double or quits stake. They then propound to
whoso will listen, their " practical studies," and their
" infallible calculations on human probabilities."
The gambler is essentially a maniac, yet self-con-
trolled. A well-known gambler at roulette in Baden
never played for more than fifteen minutes ; his stake
was invariably the same ; he either lost two thousand
francs, or he won from fifteen to twenty thousand. The
King of Bavaria always went to the Baden tables fol-
lowed by a servant carrying a cash-box filled with gold.
When the box was empty he left the place.
The gambler is superstitious; he believes in fetich.
If a hump-backed man wins, you will see " punters "
eagerly group about him to touch his hump and rub
against his luck. At Vichy players carry rabbits' paws
to gently touch the backs of those who win. One man
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 161
piles louts one upon another in a column. If the column
keeps its equilibrium, he makes his stake. If it falls, he
lays down his cards and puts his stake in his pocket,
convinced in advance of his ill luck.
Suicide is never the end of the true gambler. A clerk
who loses the money of his master, a speculator seek-
ing to retrieve his fortune by gambling, may kill him-
self ; the professional gambler, a maniac, never despairs
of his luck, though he may have lost his last penny.
He will stake his last shirt ! If he has nothing more to
lose, he will console himself in watching the play of
others, and in giving advice. The professional gambler
does not know what despair is. If he is ruined, it is be-
cause he has made a miscalculation. To his last day he
hopes for retrieval. He is convinced he shall have it.
He is a madman; but his madness is inherent in the
human species. None but reasonable and reasoning
men, players from ambition, from envy, or from neces-
sity, ever give way to despair and commit suicide. The
professional gambler lives to old age.
Thus it is that sharpers have a fine chance against
the true gambler. On him they are able by their skill,
their coolness, to bring to bear all the resources of their
jugglery. For to him the game is sacred; he neither
admits nor even suspects trickery.
THIEVES AND FORGERS
IN the kingdom — or the republic — of the Haute
Pegre the numerous ranks and categories have
scarcely varied for the last thirty years. The Haute
Pegre is, speaking generally, the caste, or association, of
the oldest and most practised thieves ; they commit none
but great robberies, and hold in profound contempt all
ordinary thieves, whom they call, derisively, pegriots,
chiffoniers [rag-pickers] .
Our society, overturned again and yet again as it
has been by revolutions, sees in the caste of thieves
the same thing that has happened in all other castes.
There, as elsewhere, the more it changes, the more it
is the same thing.
Systems of repression against wretches who have no
other means of living than robbery and murder, being
now discussed in the interests of liberty ill understood,
thieves are becoming more numerous and more auda-
cious. The world of thieves has put to profit the war
against society to share the spoils and follow with im-
punity their criminal ends. During the last thirty years
the number of murderers and robbers has frightfully
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 163
increased ; while from day to day criminals are more and
more able to escape from law and justice.
Thanks to greater rapidity and facility in ways of
communication, the world of criminals is now a cosmo-
politan world whose most distinguished heroes be-
long, as for thieves, to England; as for murderers, to
Germany. The great genius of robbery was an Eng-
lishman named Benson ; the prototypes of murder were
Jud and Tropmann, both Germans.
Formerly, robbers emeriti, like Lacenaire and
Soufflard, robbers and murderers both, established their
"centres" in the slums of the Cite; now those "centres "
are in foreign countries. These criminals form in Lon-
don and in Germany not bands but associations, with
their hierarchy, their rules, their troops, their finances,
and their war-material. When a great event or some
dangerous crisis occurs in France, — that happy land
for swindlers, thieves, and murderers, — the international
bandits send their most dangerous delegates to Paris.
It may be said with all certainty that to-day [1 881] the
headquarters of our Haute Pegre are established in
foreign countries; its small fry alone live in the lairs
of Paris. The great men come over only when there is
a " stroke to be made," or an event to exploit.
The gens comme il faut, the well-bred members of
the Haute Pegre, keep themselves very carefully from
their humbler brethren in the slums. When they need
a " centre " in Paris to meet and concert their plans,
they avoid all regions placed from time immemorial
under the eye of the police. They create one for them-
1 64 MEMOIRS OF
selves. At the time of the Tropmann affair, an establish-
ment, half-creamery, half-brewery, kept by a woman in
spectacles, suddenly cropped up in the rue Grange-
Batelliere. It disappeared, with its hostess, the moment
the police learned that Tropmann, on arriving in Paris,
had gone there to meet a party of internationals. These
heroes of the Haute Pegre never do more than two
" strokes " a year ; but those are always master-strokes
which procure them a fortune.
Politics, at which these geniuses of robbery and murder
scoff, are to them a means, never an end. Under the
Commune, when fanatics and dreamers of absolute
equality opened all the prisons of Paris, the thieves and
murderers took advantage of that act of social reparation
to plant themselves in the Hotel de Ville and dictate
their own laws. They had but one object — to profit by
the national disaster and to pillage, continuing their
exploits even upon the men who had released them !
I, myself, when a prisoner under the Commune, owed
my life and my escape from the fate of the hostages put
to death by Ferre and Raoul Rigault to a man of the
Haute Pegre, then in power, who recognized me grate-
fully, and saved me, by his cleverness, from certain
For the last thirty years the leaders of this world of
criminals have acquired an importance that places them
almost in the rank of conquerors. Though the police,
thanks to its spies, detectives, and inspectors, knows
the name, address, and character of all the scoundrels
in Paris, it does not know, and will never know, the
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 165
bandits in other lands who descend upon us from their
lairs and set in motion their armies. These wretches
have the whole world in which to escape the pursuit of
our sleuth-hounds. They have gold in abundance with
which they pay a police almost as well organized as our
own. For the last twenty years they have internation-
Before the war in Italy, and long before the German
war, the criminal quarters of Paris — the Isle aux Singes
at Greville, the Carrieres d 'Amerique at Belleville —
knew no other cosmopolitan robbers than the Romani-
chels, a sort of nomad tribe, dating back to the Middle
Ages, recalling the family of the Cageux, classical bohe-
mians, thieves, robbers, and murderers from father to
son, travelling in all countries, recognizing no laws,
having but one object, theft, one counsellor, craft, one
will, that of the tribe. To-day, the Romanichel bohe-
mians are far surpassed by the organization of other
bands, the depredations of which, since the Italian and
German wars and the era of the Commune, present
a much more threatening attitude, excited by our civil
discords, and encouraged by our political rancours.
While the great crimes are still plotted and carried
out by instigators in foreign lands, a change has taken
place in the pe'grioL Thanks to the relaxed laws that
protect him, he has become a past-master of theft and
allied crimes. Quite recently we have seen the too cele-
brated Maillot organizing bands oi pegriots on the road
from Greville to Vaugirard, and murdering for the
sole purpose of robbery. They exceed in cruelty and
1 66 MEMOIRS OF
cynicism the old fagot [discharged galley-slave], to
whom, in earlier times, they would have been mere aides.
In addition to this foreign contingent of robbers and
assassins (but aside from these apprentice thieves,
now past-masters in crime and infamy), the tricks, the
expedients of modern bandits vary very little from those
described by Vidocq and Canler. It really seems as
though crime, like all other things here below, by
spreading and generalizing itself, has lost originality.
On the other hand, swindlers and forgers, whose num-
bers are legion, show far more imagination. They do not
borrow from Mandrin or Cartouche their expedients and
dodges. No, they avail themselves of progress, they meet
the conditions of the present day. The police are fairly
worn out at times with these rascals. They swarm in
Paris ; they fight a perpetual battle with us under one
form or another : sometimes it is a " matrimonial agency "
that we have to watch, the advertisements of which
attract respectable families anxious to hide the fault
of a daughter by paying a handsome dot to whoever
will marry her. Sometimes it is a " business agency,"
a "commission house," offering employment to poor
devils, who, in view of a position and a fixed salary, are
induced to put their savings, which they never will
see again, into the hands of swindlers. Or, again, it is
a midwife, making a business of abortion, calling her-
self a mere aux anges [mother to angels] of deserted
The swindlers and forgers who are least easy to cap-
ture are the adulterators of articles of commerce, and
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 167
those who alter and falsify the receipts of the pawn-shops.
A band of rascals was organized for this double pur-
pose. In less than three months they succeeded in
making 300,000 francs, and in three months more they
had realized a round million.
In the suburbs of Paris, such, for instance, as the
streets named Menilmontant and Flanders, there are
workshops of the forgers of commemorative coins, and
of medals claiming to have been blessed, which are sent
by the wagon-load to far distant foreign lands under pre-
text of religious propaganda. The forgers of these coins
and medals unlicensed by the Mint produce wonderful
transformations by means of electric baths. A zinc medal
becomes a gold medal, and is sold as such, with a bene-
diction from the Pope that has never been given. Several
of these clandestine workshops have been broken up by
the police ; though often our hands were tied by high
influences that protected these manufacturers, who were,
most of them, church-wardens of a parish.
The most interesting forgers, those who have raised
their misdeeds to an art, are the makers of bank-notes
and autographs. Does the reader desire to know the
sum represented by the forged notes that are brought to
the Bank of France in one year ? It amounts, in round
numbers, to two millions of francs. Lacenaire, whose
business was that of a public writer, was a forger of the
highest class ; he could imitate perfectly the writing of
the great bankers and merchants of his day.
Since Lacenaire, a new industry has cropped up, which
I ought to have detected and arrested at its start, but
168 MEMOIRS OF
failed in doing so, — I mean the fabrication of auto-
There existed some time ago, near the Place Saint-
Sulpice, a dealer in second-hand articles, who sold at
a reduction letters and signatures of the greatest people
in the world — Frederick the Great, Voltaire, J. J. Rous-
seau, Mme. de Warens, Louis XIV, George Sand, and
Sandeau, Bernadotte, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, etc.,
etc. The shop of this man was a perfect Pantheon ; an
historical pandemonium, where the quantity of famous
names equalled their quality.
Being myself a lover of curious things, I often stopped
as I passed through that quarter before the show-win-
dow of the dealer, whose sordid shop scarcely corre-
sponded with the calligraphic treasures he exhibited to
the public eye. Yet I must own that on entering it and
meeting the little old man, with grey eyes, pinched
face, and sunken cheeks, yellow as his own parch-
ments, I, even I, was entrapped.
Was the man a maniac, ruining himself by collecting
autographs that he sold, as he told me, with regret. Or
was he — could he be, on the contrary, a shrewd knave,
who, to profit by the mania of collectors, made himself
more of a collector than they ?
I own that I could not make this out ; and I stood
looking about me when, at the farther end of the shop,
where Louis XIV clocks were piled pell-mell with Louis
XV andirons and rococo porcelains, my eye caught
sight of a beautiful picture marked " authentic portrait
of La Fontaine," and also of a sketch for a portrait
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 169
which I recognized at once as that of George Sand
about her twentieth year.
" I possess," said the little old man , pointing to the
sketch, " a portrait of George Sand before she was the
celebrated writer that we now know, and when she was
only a painter on china, after her first separation from
As I warmly admired the breadth and freedom of
the sketch, the old man added :
" This portrait is all the more precious because I have
reason to think that she painted it herself."
I was surprised at this detail, and so much interested
in the matter that I forgot the object of my inspection.
I was being caught in the lime with which I had ex-
pected to catch the bird in his own nest; and I was
completely fooled when the old man opened a casket
and drew forth several letters from George Sand to
Sandeau, in one of which the celebrated writer called
her master in the art of writing : " Illustrious Flam-
bard ! " Sandeau called Flambard [Flashlight] by the
woman who owed to him the grace of her style, and
half her name ! Here was something to dream about !
How could I doubt the authenticity of the letter when
its owner undoubtedly possessed a portrait of the author.
I own that, in spite of certain suspicions which lin-
gered in my mind, I should have been wholly taken in
if it had not been for the profusion of the old fellow's
merchandise. Returning to him the sketch and the
autograph, I asked, in a tone of incredulity, who sup-
plied him with his more or less authentic collection.
170 MEMOIRS OF
" A learned man, monsieur," he replied, looking at
me with an air of lofty disdain, " a very learned man,
whose good faith cannot be suspected, for he is hon-
oured with the confidence of the Institute. His name
is Vrain Lucas, the friend and scientific assistant of
And the old man, closing his coffer and replacing the
sketch, showed me out of his shop without another word.
I own I was puzzled, floored, and beaten. How could
I suspect an old antiquary who obtained his treasures
from a man honoured by the confidence of Michel
Chasles, the dean of the most distinguished philo-
sophers and mathematicians then living. What could I,
an outsider, a mere policeman, do against Vrain Lucas,
behind whom the antiquary sheltered himself, sup-
ported by the learned Academy of which Chasles was
at that time the most superb incarnation ?
It was not until later, very much later, that Vrain
Lucas was discovered to be a shameless and vulgar
forger; who had abused the confidence of the learned
mathematician, and had used him as a breast-plate
to launch his forged letters and signatures of Pascal,
Voltaire, Newton, etc., etc., upon the world. At first
M. Chasles, when the forgeries were discovered, was
placed in an awkward position. When summoned be-
fore the examining magistrate as the accomplice of
Lucas, of whom he was really the victim, he replied to
" I have often been duped, never suspecting evil in
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 171
I myself, after the Commune, had a personal oppor-
tunity to judge of the skill of the forgers of autographs.
An offer was made to one of my friends in my presence
of an autograph of the famous Raoul Rigault, who,
with Ferre, had imprisoned me as a hostage in the
prison of La Sante. The man who offered the auto-
graph did not know me; he knew only that my friend
was a fanatical collector.
When the document was produced, what did I see ?
— a forged autograph of which the original was then
in my desk and is still in my possession ! an order to
permit my wife to see me in the prison of La Sante,
in presence of a gaoler, signed Raoul Rigault! This
paper I had shown to many persons after the Commune
had ceased to exist ; it had remained deeply engraved
on the memory of one of them whom we soon discovered
to be an autograph forger.
When the Commissary of Police made a descent on
this successor to Vrain Lucas, he found a secret work-
shop where several forgers were busy, according to
their aptitudes, in making the writing of Alexandre
Dumas, La Place, Alfred de Musset, Champfleury, etc.
One of them excelled in the large writing of Louis XIV,
another in the clear, precise calligraphy of Dumas,
fere ; a third in the illegible scrawl of Balzac.
There was also, in the same house, a studio in which
a painter made admirable portraits of great men in the
precise style of the artists of the eighteenth century.
The master of the establishment sold these portraits as
originals to antiquaries of the same honest class as the
172 MONSIEUR CLAUDE
owner of the portrait of George Sand ! At last I had
the key to the mystery of that sketch !
These rascally forgers of antiquities are not dead yet.
Our historical museums are filled with the work of these
skilful artists, whose lies, carefully preserved, are going
down to posterity.
THE DIAMONDS OF THE DUKE OF
THOSE who knew Paris in the sixties, will
doubtless remember, in the old Beaujon quar-
ter, a strange, striped house, the aspect of
which had an irritating originality. The outer walls
of the property opened, or rather, were never opened,
into gardens, in one angle of which stood the build-
ing owned and occupied by the Duke of Bruns-
The illustrious Duke, whose very noble stock has
given kings to England, was not less eccentric than
the appearance of his house. If the style paints the
man, it could be said with equal truth that the Duke
of Brunswick was painted by his house. He was a
personage as mysterious, as bedizened, as sinister as
the scarlet facade of his singular habitation. In that
house, which resembled an immense strong-box, the
Duke kept from fifteen to sixteen millions worth of dia-
monds. He was as miserly as he was rich, while con-
tinuing his ancestral traditions of gallantry. If he took
his pleasures, he wanted them cheap. He never opened
his jewel-box, which was stuffed as full of precious
i 7 4 MEMOIRS OF
stones as the cave of Ali-Baba, except for his personal
and private satisfaction.
Perhaps he was right, that noble Duke, to entrench
himself in his house, as in a cave or fortress. His fam-
ily never forgave the trick by which, when driven from
his duchy, he contrived to carry off the diamond mil-
lions that belonged far more to the crown than to him,
the discrowned prince. It was not without reason,
therefore, that the Duke had made his house a sort of
scarecrow; like the Chinamen who, to terrify their
adversaries, hide behind fantastic monsters.
But the repulsive outside appearance of the house
was not its only means of defence. Before reaching the
Duke's apartments a thousand bells would be set ring-
ing. There were bells to all the doors, and these doors
converged towards the private study and bedroom of
the Duke. Behind these two rooms was the strong-box,
or cupboard which contained the diamonds. Here
electric bells communicated by hidden wires with a
row of pistols. At an unaccustomed pressure these
revolvers could fire a broadside that would inevitably
blow to fragments the rash intruder. If the Duke slept
on millions it was certainly not a bed of roses ; and it
is no wonder that he, mentally as well as bodily, saw
I remember this singular personage as I often saw
him in a stage-box of the lesser theatres, which he fre-
quented in company with some ephemeral mistress of
the quarter-world. He sat immoveable as a milestone.
It was impossible to guess his age or his features be-
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 175
hind the painted mask of his impassible face. All was
false in this enigmatical individual, who was almost an
automaton. False was his beard, false his hair, false
his whiskers; even his movements, when he made any,
went, as it were, by mechanism. When he rose, a
strange, rattling sound was heard, like the clatter of
bones when the wind sets a skeleton in motion. This
man, a living corpse, a talking skeleton, was horrible
to look at.
The Emperor himself did not give more trouble to
the police. Inspectors were paid never to lose sight of
him, and to watch his domestics, whom he distrusted
as the rots faineants distrusted the mayors of their
palace. We had to keep an incessant eye on this dead
body, which lived only to aggravate his family. The
police were literally worn out because the noble Duke,
who had alienated all persons of his own caste, was the
aim and object of every intriguer upon earth, both male
and female, attracted by the gleam of his diamonds.
As miserly as he was suspicious, his monomania (often
quite justifiable) was to think that the whole human
race was after his jewel-box.
The newspapers of that period are full of suits
brought by obscure persons against the luckless rich
man, who was always on the qui vive, always in expec-
tation that some one would shout to him " Your money
or your life." Once a Mme. Civry drew upon him and
claimed, as a natural daughter, a very considerable
allowance. It was really no wonder that, fantastic as
he was, he took such precautions to defend himself
176 MEMOIRS OF
against his assailants. If his house was a fortress, if
his garden was full of wolf-traps, if his private rooms
were defended by revolvers and electric bells, it was
because his house and his person were literally hemmed
about by all the bandits of the globe.
The Duke had in his service a young English woman
as honest and virtuous as she was pretty. He turned
her awav because he could not obtain from her what
he obtained from his other servants, compliances that
were not in the bond of ordinary service. The maid,
angry at the insolence and the stinginess of her mas-
ter, who had turned her off without her legal eight
days 1 notice, vowed vengeance. She found an avenger
at hand in the Duke's confidential valet, who declared
himself outraged by the conduct of the Duke; he had,
he said, wrongs of his own to redress, and he proposed
to the maid to take their revenge in common. She
This valet, named Henry Shaw, was a countryman
of the young girl. He was born at Newcastle and was
twenty-six years of age. He had not lived a year with
the Duke of Brunswick before, by his intelligence, his
manners, his obliging ways, he had made himself the
indispensable man of the household. The following
was the plan of revenge he proposed to the maid :
they were to write a joint letter addressed to the
Duke of Cumberland, in which they pledged them-
selves, in return for a sum of one hundred thousand
francs, to restore to the family of the Duke of Bruns-
wick the diamonds of which he had defrauded them.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 177
The maid consented, not without reluctance, to sign
this letter with the valet ; but she added a postscript
in which she declined her share in the reward claimed
by Shaw, who, she said, took upon himself alone, by
means of which she knew nothing, to restore the dia-
monds to their rightful owners, from whom the Duke
was keeping them.
His plan thus laid, Shaw went to work to obtain the
diamonds, the real object of his entering the Duke's
service. Clever robber that he was, he had not only
studied his master in order to curry favour with him,
but he had likewise studied the strong-box and its
arsenal, and was ever on the watch for some chance
moment when he might evade the threatening diffi-
culties and open it.
This strong-box, or coffer, was built into the wall of
the bedroom adjoining the Duke's study, and placed
close to the head of his bed. Its iron door was de-
fended, as I have said, by a battery of revolvers ; and
outside of this door was a wooden door, concealed by
the padded silken hangings that covered the walls of
the room. It was impossible for any hand ignorant
of the secret which closed and defended this recep-
tacle to open it when once the owner had closed the
Now, on the 7th of December, 1863, the Duke was
expecting his jeweller to take orders for the setting of
certain stones which he had taken from the coffer.
In doing so, he neglected, contrary to his usual habit,
to lock the inner iron door. Shaw, who had entered
178 MEMOIRS OF
the Duke's service expressly to watch for such a mo-
ment of forgetfulness, saw with joy that the Duke by
not locking the door left the complicated mechanism
of the pistol-battery unset. The Duke then locked the
outer door, the key of which never left his person.
After waiting in vain for his jeweller, the Duke went
out, leaving a message for the man, if he came, with
Shaw, who had his entire confidence. Left alone, Shaw
seized the opportunity he had long waited and prepared
for. Using a file, which he always carried, he forced
the lock of the outer door, and then pulled open the
iron door which had lost its power to fire the battery
on the robber.
Before the latter, on the shelves, in the drawers, lay
the treasure of his master, — diamonds, jewels, decora-
tions, bags of gold, — a treasure amounting to over
fifteen millions. Shaw filled his pockets and a linen
bag which he always carried with him. Then he closed
the door behind the silk hanging which hid the break-
age, and went to his room to pack his bag and depart.
He went to the railway station and took his ticket for
Boulogne, taking care to leave word for the Duke, with
one of the men-servants, that he was unwell and unable
to attend him that evening.
When the Duke returned and received the message,
he became suspicious. Rushing to the wooden door
masking the coffer, he found the lock forced. No longer
a doubt ! he was robbed ! Opening the iron door, he
found that over two millions in diamonds and quan-
tities of bank-notes were taken. The valet's room was
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 179
searched ; its condition revealed the guilty man. On
the floor lay several diamonds, dropped in his hasty
Complaint was instantly made to the Prefecture. As
complaints of this character made by such person-
ages usually reached me as soon as they were sent in,
I received an order to attend to the case immediately.
On this occasion, the London police, by communi-
cating with the French police, made my work easy.
I have already said that Shaw, shrewd robber that
he was, had tried to enlist the interests and gratitude
of the Duke's family, and thus give to his crime a cer-
tain chivalrous appearance. That which he hoped to
save him proved his undoing. His letter to the English
Prince of the blood roused the latter's indignation; and,
to prevent it from becoming a pretext for scandal, he
sent it to the London police, who, in turn, forwarded
the information to the Prefecture in Paris. As chief
of police, I received the communication almost as soon
as I had taken the Duke of Brunswick's deposition.
I repeat: Shaw's excess of precaution defeated him.
He had added, like the chambermaid, a postscript to
his letter in which he said he would wait until a cer-
tain time at Boulogne the arrival of an emissary from
the Prince authorized to receive the diamonds of the
Duke of Brunswick; for which service he claimed for
himself the sum of one hundred thousand francs. Thus
I was notified of the robbery and of the direction in
which the robber had fled almost simultaneously.
I took a night train and arrived at Boulogne by day-
180 MEMOIRS OF
break. Knowing by experience the habits of thieves of
the Shaw species, I sent the two inspectors I had
brought with me to the best hotels in the city. From
them I soon learned that Shaw (whose photograph I had
in my pocket) was at the Hotel d'Angleterre. Thither
I proceeded and asked to see him.
When we met I presented to him his letter to the
Duke of Cumberland and said I was sent to meet
him. He looked discomfited, but was still more so
when my two agents joined me, and I showed war-
rant for his arrest. Whether he would or not, he was
forced to return with me by railroad, leaving the Folke-
stone steamer to depart without him, and without the
Henry Shaw was, in reality, a professional thief.
English by birth, he had lived in Prussia, Poland, and
England, changing his name as often as his residence.
He had committed a robbery in Warsaw on one of his
own uncles, and he came to Paris in 1862 for the express
purpose of robbing the Duke of Brunswick. He was
then twenty-six years of age, and the type of a class
of thieves called " interesting " : thieves without shame,
uniting skill and cunning with audacity. He was a tall,
thin, slender young man, always irreproachably well-
dressed. His skin was pallid, his cheeks hollow and
bony, while his large prominent eyes on that glaucous
face had a roguish expression mingled with irony.
When he was brought before the court of assizes, the
Duke of Brunswick, who knew of his letter to the Duke
of Cumberland, did not appear as witness. He was
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 181
afraid of the scandal and pretended to be ill. Having
recovered his diamonds, he would make no charge
against Shaw except in a vague way through an aide-
de-camp. The judge, more enlightened than the jury,
said to the prisoner:
" Shaw, explain your case; for the jury do not know
why you are here."
" Well, then, they should acquit me," he replied
" Do not aggravate your situation by misplaced jokes,"
said the judge.
" I am not joking," he replied ; " if I am not con-
demned, I request to be allowed to go."
" Answer," ordered the judge.
" I have nothing to answer, inasmuch as my accuser
dares not accuse me."
" He cannot," said the judge.
11 Because he has nothing to say."
The rest of the examination was on the same tone.
When the judge asked him about the hundred thou-
sand francs he had contrived to secrete, Shaw
" Probably I dropped them in the young woman's
room, and did not pick them up."
" Why not ? " asked the judge.
" I had enough. However," he added, " if you will
assure me that the girl will not be harassed about
those hundred thousand francs, I will tell you who
11 Your request is inadmissible."
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" I am not the judge of that," replied Shaw, bowing
" But I am!" retorted the judge, ending the scene
amid an hilarity that was very unusual in that court.
But the celebrated lawyer, Lachaud, gave another
turn to the trial, which, so far, had been as burlesque
as the strange personage in whose behalf it was brought.
If the judge could not make the thief talk, still less
could he silence Maitre Lachaud, who threatened to
say too much.
"The Duke of Brunswick," he cried, "instead of
coming here, sends an aide-de-camp. My client holds
his tongue. I fully expected it — "
" You, yourself," interrupted the judge, " talk far too
much in pretending you have nothing to say."
" The silence of the accused," replied his defender,
" is based on considerations that you understand very
well — considerations that permit you to be more mer-
ciful than the Minister of the Interior expects."
The thief, however, was condemned to twenty years
at the galleys ; but he kept his hundred thousand francs,
which could not go to the Duke, inasmuch as the Duke
never claimed them out of fear of Maitre Lachaud's
tongue, which said too much while pretending to say
nothing. At the conclusion of the trial it was hard to
say which of the parties was most to be commiserated,
— the thief who had made a hundred thousand francs,
or his master who fled from a court where he feared
revelations. "Stolen goods bring no profit," says the
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 183
The diamonds of His Royal Highness, filched from
the national treasury where they belonged, went to
enrich a republic that did not know what to do with
them. It needed a Duke of Brunswick, who painted
his house bright red and trusted a thief, to make
Switzerland the heir of what belonged to Hanover.
ANOTHER INTERVIEW WITH M. THIERS
I HAVE had the satisfaction in my long career to
have never mingled in any unworthy machina-
tions in spite of the times in which I lived ; to have
never served either the cupidity or the base purposes
of the courtiers of the Empire, too ready to embitter
still further the rancours of their master. I will prove
this by the following episode :
One day, in 1863, I met Mme. X , elegantly
dressed, on the boulevard. She was on the arm of a
dandy of the finest variety, — waxed moustache and
lemon-coloured gloves. She came up to me with her
usual dragoon aplomb, and without giving her brilliant
escort the time to bow to me, she dropped his arm and
dismissed him with a lack of civility that amazed me.
He sneaked off, like a cur with his tail between his legs.
I felt pained and mortified for him, and I asked :
" Who is that gentleman ? and why do you send him
off in such a way ? "
" That I " she said, with a contemptuous grimace; "oh
that 's a species one cannot keep too carefully at a dis-
tance lest he encroach too far. That 's my secretary, my
factotum, my servant, a little of a spy, a little of a literary
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 185
man, a little of everything! In reality, he 's nothing at all !
The thing eats, drinks, talks, poses, but scratch off the
varnish on that semblance of a man, and you have a
manikin, a lay figure. He thinks he is somebody because
I dress him and lodge him. For me, he is a servant,
good at doing anything"
Disgusted with her cynicism I asked :
" Was it to show me a gentleman of that species that
you stopped me ? "
" No," she answered, taking my arm and dropping her
voice; " it was to give you an order from the Chateau."
" Ah ! " I exclaimed, pinching my lips.
" To-morrow — to-night," she added, " you will go
and see M. Thiers."
" / go and see M. Thiers ! " I exclaimed. " // on the
terms he is with the Chateau ? Nonsense ! "
" I tell you you will go to see M. Thiers, for within
an hour he has left a card, turned down, at your door."
u Then you know more than I do," I said ; " I have
not been home since morning."
" How stupid you are ! " she laughed, pressing coquet-
tishly on my arm. " Is n't it our business to know what
other people do not know ? "
" True. But how do you know that M. Thiers called
in person at my house ?"
" By that manikin you have just seen. This morning
he saw M. Thiers in the street. As he was idling about,
waiting for me, he followed him. He saw him enter your
house. Naturally, as I pay him to report everything, he
told me what I have just told you. Now you know what
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you have to do in our service if you do not wish to
be counted among our enemies as the confederate of
that old parliamentarian, that dangerous veteran, the
Emperor's enemy. Good-day to you, my dear Claude
— a man warned is twice a man."
And with that she left me, planted on the sidewalk,
amazed by what I had heard.
At this period, the elections of 1863 opened the doors
of the Chamber of Deputies to M. Thiers and others
who, in December, 185 1, had issued from them to go to
Mazas. Force had driven them from their seats ; the law
re-seated them. Parliamentarianism was being re-con-
stituted. The France of law, which had slept for a dozen
years, was awaking ; she opened her eyes, roused by the
Mexican war — as evil a dream as the Coup d' Etat.
Coming to her senses once more, she voted for Thiers.
And M. Thiers, who, on returning, remembered me
because he had need of me, had, as Mme. X
asserted, left his card on me the moment he resumed
his seat in the Chamber. On receiving it, I hastened to
pay him a visit at his house in the rue Saint-Georges.
As soon as he saw me, he took me into his private
room, with the greatest mystery.
" My dear Claude," he said with diabolical animation,
pressing my hand effusively, " during the last twelve
years I have not forgotten what I owe you for warning
me that I was about to be arrested by the myrmidons
of Bonaparte. As long as I could do nothing for you
I kept silence. But now that we are strong through the
weakness and blunders of our conquerors, strong by the
I I 'i IS ADOLPHE Til II. R!
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 187
ruins they have made around them, now I come to you,
and say : Be one of us ! You arrested me as an insurg-
ent, an anarchist ; now that the principle of national
sovereignty, that great principle of Liberty, brings me
back face to face with your sovereign to remind him
of the laws he violated, the oaths he betrayed, I say to
you, — in your interests, — in mine, — in those of
France, — I say to you, my dear Claude, be one of us ! "
" Monsieur Thiers," I replied, rising and taking my
hat, " if you have a memory, so have I. I remember that
formerly you told me to do my duty, nothing but my
duty. If I listened to you, if I rallied to you, I should be
a dishonest man. I serve my sovereign, as you told me
to do, loyally. Be our sovereign to-morrow, and the
humble policeman, if you think me worthy, will have
the honour of serving you as faithfully."
" Ah ! " exclaimed M. Thiers, excitedly, not expecting
this reply ; " so you are enslaved to this Empire, you ! "
" No, Monsieur Thiers," I answered, bowing to him,
" because, when I leave this room I shall forget, for
your sake and for mine, this conversation."
" Well, well," said M. Thiers, pursing his lips and
settling his spectacles, " you have remained an honest
man, for which I congratulate you. But take care! too
much self-abnegation does harm. You have too much
of it ever to succeed. — Well, I had a great many things
to say to you ; but there 's no use saying them now.
Or rather, I will say them later."
" When you have your ministers, my chiefs, at the
coming revolution ! "
1 88 MEMOIRS OF
" And it is coming, my dear Claude ; coming without
delay!" exclaimed Thiers, a diabolical smile twisting
his elfish old face.
I left him. When I returned to my private room at
the Prefecture, whom should I find installed there but
Mme. X , lying comfortably on my sofa, and
smoking a cigarette.
" Well ! " she demanded the moment she saw me,
" what did that old baboon of a Thiers, that bourgeois
behind the age, propose to you ? "
" Nothing," I said curtly, " because," I added, not to
incur the wrath of the irascible spy, " because I let him
know at once that I am not a politician, but a simple
" You lie ! " she exclaimed. " If any one else had
made me that reply I 'd have him broke. But you, my
friend, to whom I owe my life, I spare you. I leave you
to your secrets with that obstinate and out-of-date old
Orleanist. Good-bye ! I tell you that in listening to
Thiers and his rubbish, you are a ninny."
So saying, out she went, much provoked, slamming
the door behind her.
To this had we come under the Empire ! Neither
friends nor enemies of that power could admit, so
obliterated was all moral sense, that a man might listen
to some other counsel than that inspired by self-interest
or by hatred !
It was my acquaintance with M. Thiers that first
brought me into the society of men of letters, which,
since then, I have always sought. Their existence, on
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 189
the outside, has been to me a relaxation from my concen-
trated life, which, at certain points, is not unlike that of
writers and artists. A good policeman, while ever on his
guard against passions, in order to be cool in analyzing
effects, is none the less inquisitive and inquiring. What
a subject of study for a policeman is the profession of
an artist or a man of letters, called upon to reproduce
all the follies of the human race.
Our role, however, is far less enviable than that of the
artist or writer ; for the policeman is required to mingle in
a thousand dramas that the artist only analyzes to enjoy.
This affinity between the two vocations exhibits itself in
very different ways : the one by skill and dexterity joined
to activity ; the other by the most complete carelessness
and the greatest naivete. Perhaps it is for this reason
that I have always sought — I, the man of duty, the
slave of my vocation — the men who affect disdain for
social conditions and the ordinary rules of life. The
tone, the spirit of the lettered and artistic race refreshed
me delightfully; its naivete amazed me ; it did me good,
when I escaped from the centres of crime and the hell
of corruption and duplicity.
From 1848 to 1858 I was in charge of the police
supervision of the theatres : and I assert that I have seen
defile before me, not only the most celebrated artists
and men of letters, but also the most famous political
comedians of our times.
I have seen, after the events of June, 1848, — I have
seen with my own eyes Prince Louis-Napoleon Bona-
parte, at that very time aspiring to the imperial purple,
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appear in the box of a theatre with his face and hands
dirty, to curry favour with the sovereign people in the
I have seen Victor Hugo, standing on one foot, re-
fuse a stool offered to him from below by the malicious
Beranger, that he might continue the cynosure of all
the eyes of the adoring crowd that acclaimed him
from the gallery.
I have seen Rachel, the greatest tragedienne of mod-
ern times, who had had for her Maecenases the courtiers
of the most liberal of monarchies, sing the " Marseil-
laise " before the footlights, and then drive off in the
carriage of the Caesars to the imperial palace.
I have seen a little author, who could not pay for
his glass of beer at the Cafe des Mousquetaires, faint
away on hearing a fusillade on the Boulevard des Capu-
cines, and sign, three days later, as secretary of the
Provisional Government, the proclamation announcing
to the French nation the appointment of its new sover-
I have seen strolling players of the lowest class, on
the eve of 1848, become on the morrow officers of the
body-guard of Caussidiere.
I have seen actresses, having sung upon the stage
the " Girondins " and the " Chant du Depart," jump
into the coupes of the Empire which were, invariably,
stationed from eleven o'clock till midnight at the side
doors of the minor theatres.
I have seen the wife of a member of the Provisional
Government who, the night before, could not pay her
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 191
coal-man, drive to the theatre in one of the carriages
of the ex-king, taking the precaution to stop on the
way and proudly pay that coal-bill.
What have I not seen ? All that human folly can
produce, down to Lucien de la Hode, acclaimed, on
the morrow of 1848, by an enthusiastic crowd at the
theatre of the Porte Saint-Martin, before he was con-
demned to death by his comrades whom he had again
and again sold to the police.
Such follies have since been enacted in a way that
was equally grotesque, though never in so bloody a
manner as under the Commune. Where will they stop
when the tide of revolution again casts upon us the
heel-taps of our society in ruins? — But these retro-
spective, or perspective, digressions are carrying me too
far, and they are out of my proper province.
After the events of 1848, when I became commissary
of the theatres, I installed myself, far from my office, in
the rue Notre Dame de Lorette. I entered again into
the merry, witty, heedless life of the artistic and liter-
ary bohemia grouped around me ; the scenes of which,
always varied, were renewed like a fascinating pan-
orama to my astonished eyes. I thus passed many
agreeable moments with persons who made me forget
in their imaginary world the horrible or repugnant
dramas I was forced to follow in real life.
It must be said that true artists, true writers, have
ways of looking at things that belong to them alone.
They even astound and stupefy the policeman, accus-
tomed to live among scoundrels almost as strong as
192 MEMOIRS OF
himself in dealing with justice and the law. Therefore,
with some exceptions, theatrical people and men of
letters are the last persons to become the objects of a
criminal prosecution. Their levity, their want of logic,
their inconsistency, are all so many safeguards against
For one Scribe, who never trusted anything to
chance, — for one Hugo, who, like Scribe, but in a
higher way, never trifled with fortune, — you will find
a hundred Gringoires, and quite as many Alexandre
Dumas, seniors. Inconstancy and levity, — those are
the birthmarks of talent, the characteristics of genius.
I can still see Alexandre Dumas, the elder, that great
child, with a mulatto face, smiling and sympathetic,
as he entered his Theatre historique on the evening
before his bankruptcy, and asked his box-keeper :
" How much are the receipts ? "
" Two hundred francs," replied the man ; " but the
gas company refuse to supply us, and here are six
hundred francs in protested notes."
"Pooh! we'll take the two hundred," said Dumas.
" It will be daylight to-morrow! Before the bailiffs get
here, let us go and drink a punch out of that money."
I had, myself, to act against Alexandre Dumas, who
never had time to add up a sum ; he was always too
busy writing pages to supply the deficit of his subtrac-
tions. It was under the following circumstances:
After the bankruptcy of his theatre, Dumas was so
oblivious of law that he still wore the cross of the Legion
of Honour. The police did not wish to proceed against
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 193
a man of such value and importance as if he were an
ordinary misdemeanant, and I was instructed by the
court to ask Alexandre Dumas, a bankrupt, not to wear
I presented myself to the illustrious writer. I ex-
plained to him the unpleasant errand on which I was
sent. I begged him not to expose himself to remark,
but to submit to the law by depriving his buttonhole
of its red ribbon, inasmuch as he was temporarily
marked off the roll of the Legion of Honour.
" Very well, Papa Claude," said the big child, wag-
ging his head and shrugging his shoulders in a way he
had. " We '11 conform to the law."
Then, pulling out a drawer beneath his desk (on
which lay sheets of paper covered with his large and
magnificent writing), this colossus of the feuilleton
showed me a collection of the crosses of every order
upon earth, saying, with his broad smile :
" What will you give for all that hardware ? "
I was about to withdraw, grieved and ashamed for
this wonderful writer, whose merits had been so glori-
ously recognized and rewarded by all the Courts of
Europe, when a witness of the scene, a monarchist,
sulky with the Republic, said to him :
II It is under a Republic that you are treated in this
way. Why the devil, my dear Dumas, are you, an
intelligent man, a Republican ? "
" Only to be fifteen days in advance of you," he
replied, as he showed me out, anxious to be done
with me and the visitor, that he might finish his " copy,"
i 9 4 MONSIEUR CLAUDE
the only thing that he, who forgot everything, never
Men of letters are great children. Thoughtless about
the things of life, they are not changed since the days
of La Fontaine. Artists, men of letters, theatrical men,
painters, musicians, are the most artless creatures in
the world. The faithless cashiers who discount their
weaknesses and defraud their enterprises prove it. The
Society of Musical Composers and Editors was de-
frauded by its founder of 40,000 francs. The Society
of Dramatic Authors had a bank drama, in which its
founder, M. Scribe, saved the situation by something
more than a comic dodge. The Society of Men of
Letters had to send one of its light-hearted cashiers to
Mazas. Without Nadar, the great and generous Nadar,
who remembered that in his own bohemian days that
cashier, more careless than dishonest, had helped him, —
without Nadar the man would have gone to prison for
years. He pulled him out of the wasp's nest by going
security for him ; and not only that, but to prove him
as innocent as he was thought guilty, he made him
cashier and confidential man in his own photographic
establishment ; but he did not keep him long !
They are all alike, these brilliant men of genius !
JOURNALISM UNDER THE EMPIRE
UNDER the Empire the Chamber was dumb,
the press spoke only to be gagged. When, in
1864, the country recovered some liberty, it
may be said that nearly all the journalists came from
the Ministry of the Interior, passing through the cab-
inet of the Prefecture of Police.
After the election to the Chamber of five members
of the Opposition, the press breathed again. It felt
a trifle freer ; the Government was forced to yield, in
a measure, to the demands of a press, regenerated by
the tribune. M. Thiers, the most influential man of the
press and the tribune of former days, had now resumed
his seat on the parliamentary benches. Overthrown
a dozen years earlier, with the statue of Law, by the
soldiers of the coming Empire, this son of the Revolu-
tion had now returned armed with all his rights.
Henceforth Liberty must be reckoned with. The
mists of night had passed; the sun of July 14 rose to
warm the hearts of the exiles of December. Public
opinion began to speak in the newspapers, although,
to tell the truth, they only echoed the Palais-Royal
[Orleanists], spiteful to the Tuileries, and were actually
ig6 MEMOIRS OF
the organs of a liberal deputy, a spy of the Chateau
on his Republican editors. The two leading papers,
the Opinion National and the Courrier du Dimanche,
had for directors, the first, M. Adolphe Gueroult, very
dear to the Palais-Royal ; the second, a Wallachian, who
well knew the way to the Tuileries.
What these journals of the moderate Opposition
received of communiques pour rire [humbug tips] would
be incredible. They emanated from the cabinet of the
official press, whose managers almost daily made up
pages for those two journals. These " communications "
rained upon them like a curse from heaven ; but to the
good public they seemed to be veritable benedictions.
At last, public opinion was satisfied ; liberty breathed
again ; and the simple public never suspected that it
was the Government that was half-opening the doors
and windows of the Opposition — the official Opposi-
tion — press !
The police had formal orders, emanating from the
office of M. Lagrange, to keep close watch on all
newspapers, great and small, born or to be born. They
were to be either smothered or turned. The Chateau
possessed an amiable deputy who had a particular gift
for turning an Opposition paper. Through the great
experience of this deputy, the dreaded journal soon
became either inoffensive or still-born. The affair was
managed as follows :
When a citizen, Orleanist or Republican, rich and
ambitious, felt the need of creating a liberal sheet, this
liberal deputy was sent to him. The deputy, a former
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 197
journalist himself under the late monarchy, endeavoured
to show the proprietor of the new paper that the
Empire was the most liberal of governments. He
proved it (being secretly in the pay of the Chateau) by
assuring him he should be relieved of giving bonds in
a sum of money if that sum were applied towards the
salary of a sub-editor to be selected by himself.
It was very rare that the liberal citizen refused these
suggestions of the liberal deputy. However liberal
a citizen may be, he is none the less flattered to be con-
sidered a something by the Government he wishes to
tease, and so obtain, as the result of his teasing, the
cross of the Legion of Honour, which pleases his
wife and gives prestige to his name. Then the sheet
announced as liberal, does not answer the expecta-
tions of its subscribers; who fall off and it dies. Or
it becomes a journal of the Empire, receiving " com-
munications " from the Ministry of the Interior.
At this period a journalist, returning from Africa,
created, under the patronage of the Chateau, a corre-
spondence which, by Machiavellian contrivance, was
entered into and published by editors who had been
proscribed in December, 185 1. When the evolution
towards liberalism was forced upon the Empire, this
African was ordered to entice from the ranks of these
proscribed ones certain political chroniclers who would
be willing to write under his dictation that the Emperor,
the author of the book on " Pauperism," was the most
liberal of the sovereigns of Europe. This correspond-
ence was the egg of the Ollivier Ministry.
198 MEMOIRS OF
Certain foreigners also had a newspaper of their own,
upholding the liberal Empire, and its principle of great
protestant nationalities. The countess, La Prussienne,
received part of the money that fell into the hands of
these men. Their newspaper, which offended all the
religious convictions of the nation, died, and was suc-
ceeded, also under feminine supervision, by the Revue
des races la tines.
At this epoch the public moral sense was so obliterated
that it knew not how to distinguish good from evil, the
just from the unjust. The new generation had grown
up in a leaden atmosphere, and knew not how or where
to turn its aspirations. Humiliated by the present,
furious with the past, anxious about the future, which
seemed more darksome even than the present, it laughed
at all things in order not to weep. This brave youth of
the nation, longing for a pilot to guide it on a sea
without a shore and without horizon, was as cruelly
misled by these journalists of a humbugging Opposition
as it was by the open supporters of the Empire who, in
their journals, tried forever to deceive it!
The police never quitted by a hair's breadth these
journalists, preparing for the struggle under tents that
were furnished by the Government. But other spies
were spying upon both, and these spies were —
Among the journalists most closely watched by the
police at that time was Villemessant, the director of the
Figaro, that cradle of the celebrated lanternist, Henri
Pvochefort. I knew Villemessant at a time when he
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 199
was very far from being the fortunate director of the
Figaro. I had to follow him through all his numerous
judicial tribulations. I can say that this astounding
journalist, full of dash and initiative, was worth far more
than many of his brotherhood who have stoned him.
His greatest wrong-doing was that he shrank from
nothing that could produce a good jest of his brew.
Without bitterness, without malignity, he was the first
to repair any harm he had done to others. After all, in
the journalistic battle that Villemessant fought to his
last hour, he harmed himself only ; to all others he did
When I was commissary of police attached to the
theatres, I was constantly with him ; he was then a
petty journalist, with very strong desires. His sheets,
announcing and puffing the various plays and sold at
the doors of the theatres, depended on the Prefecture ;
and he had need of me to discipline his numerous
vendors, who kept up a rivalry with those of the
Entr'acte. Though Villemessant was not at that time
celebrated, he was already somebody. He played high
at the Cafe Bonvalet ; he lived as a lord among the rich
merchants of the Markets, worthy inhabitants of the
Temple quarter, whom he quizzed with inexhaustible
fun. His rabelaisian sallies exploded in phrases that
were his alone. He had already seen much and lived
At a period when everybody courted the Republic,
he founded two little fault-finding and satirical sheets
— the Bouche de Fer and Le Petit Cap oral. He was
200 MEMOIRS OF
legitimist, but I do not think that his faith in his prince
was very robust ; what I do know is, that his faith in
himself was mighty. Gil Bias and Figaro — he in-
carnated himself in those types, by the self-assurance
of the one and the shrewdness of the other. What he
derived from both was their spirit of mischief.
Though he began as an annoncier [puffer of plays],
the lowest of all trades, it was only to take a better
spring to the heights of journalism. A gentleman by
birth [Jean Hippolyte de Villemessant], with Prud-
homme's ideas in politics, he desired to grow rich in
his profession that he might crush by his luxury the
bourgeois crowd he laughed at and envied only for their
enjoyments. I can see him now with his blue coat and
brass buttons, his low shoes and their rosettes in place
of the steel buckles of the old regime. I recall his
calm, penetrating eyes, his short, thick hair planted on
a low forehead, his sensual lips, his large chin, already
double, showing a will subject only to consuming
Such was Villemessant at forty years of age. He was
still in search of his career, having, like Beaumarchais,
touched at all things — art, politics, commerce, litera-
ture. He watched for a Maecenas, who never came
because at this time such beings existed no longer. He
sought for fortune and never found it till his malice
and his flair showed him that the Maecenas of the
nineteenth century was Mr. Everybody, and to win
him one must reckon above all on the follies of others.
A great mystifier and hoaxer, he loved nothing so well
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 201
as to play on the foibles of others ; and it was through
his innate taste for such diversion that in the end he
succeeded in founding the most inquisitive and the best
informed, the most interesting and the most read of all
Villemessant had but one rival. But the tempera-
ment of that rival — quite as original as himself but
with less charm — prevented a serious opposition.
More Parisian than Villemessant, this compeer in
gaiety never aspired to the society of the Faubourg
Saint-Germain. Democrat, and rival of the royalist,
he was satisfied to frolic for " the street." The two
founders of the reckless \_gaulois~] press of Paris were
Villemessant, father of the Figaro, and Commerson,
father of the Tintamarre. Henri Rochefort was their
From these two poles gushed the stinging flame
of satire on a territory that these jesters really cared
nothing for, namely, politics. Commerson and Ville-
messant, Titans of farce, brothers in loose jesting, were,
nevertheless, fraternal enemies. But it was not politics
that divided them. No, indeed ; they would not have
fought for a trifle such as that ! What estranged them
was the matter of subscribers, the question of advertise-
ments. They attacked each other before the public
exactly like hucksters in a market.
After the Coup d'Etat, Villemessant was still in
search of his career, while Commerson had found his
by creating the Tintamarre. One day Villemessant, who
no longer wrote his little theatre sheets, which had been
202 MEMOIRS OF
swept away by Morny 's broom, went to see his friend
and addressed him somewhat as follows :
" Comrade ! my prince is too honest ! He has pre-
judices that I don't share. I am reduced to inaction.
Inaction at forty years of age! that's tough! Now,
inasmuch as from the point of view of our political
rancours we have the same way of thinking, though
with very different objects, I have come to offer you
my services. Give me your book of subscribers and
advertisers, and if my long experience in journalism
can be of use to you, I will give it to you with all my
heart. As I can't be useful to my people, timid things !
I am ready to help the cleverest man I know. It is
a White ready to be useful to a Red ! A good com-
bination that! The present people have broken my
cane, and I '11 break another on the backs of my cra-
Commerson, very trusting when his vanity or his
interests were flattered, agreed, and he opened his
books to Villemessant. At the last moment, however,
Villemessant was touched by remorse, thinking his
" comrade " too innocent.
"But," he added, "suppose I turn traitor? Suppose
I found a paper like yours, won't you regret having
shown me your book of addresses ? "
" My son, I 'm not afraid of you ! " retorted Com-
merson in his Olympian tone. "There is but one
Tintamarre ! "
That was true; but eight days later there was a
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 203
However, when Villemessant became the most suc-
cessful journalist of his time, he redeemed, by acts of
extreme beneficence, by freaks of unparalleled gener-
osity, these tricks, either rash or cruel, to which his
craving for enjoyments and his love of hoaxing prompted
him. A volume would not suffice to relate them. I have
dwelt on the portraits of these two men because they
are the most singular and interesting figures of Paris-
ian journalism during the Empire. They left a joint
offspring, issuing from their very being — Henri
These two journalists, two singular personalities
dating from the generation of 1830, closed behind
them the gates of bohemia, and died with the key in
Commerson could not to-day pawn his watch to
found the Tintamarre ; Villemessant could not now
found his Figaro with the savings of a few toothless
bagmen. Ingenious minds, free from prejudices, they
founded, without capital, that which all the capital on
earth could not have founded — Parisian journalism.
They established its power by that which is least
stable — satire. They did much against an epoch of
which they were not the outcome. Inextinguishable
laughers, they attacked, solely to create laughter, the
regime of an empire that amazed them.
The police of that period prepared, as I have already
said, a large part of the political newspapers. Their
editors were often men bought by the Prefecture ;
though the younger men, pupils of the writers of 1848,
204 MEMOIRS OF
thought it strange that before they could give their
thoughts to the public they must go, at the word of
command, for political news to the Ministry of the
Interior, and for general items to the Prefecture of
Police. Against these free lances of the Parisian press
it was difficult to take strong action. When bom-
barded by the magistracy, they never could be brought
to believe that, for having exploded a few satirical jests
against the Tuileries out of pure gaiety of heart, they
were really threatened with the anger of their masters.
But if an old stager like Villemessant laughed at the
pasteboard thunderbolts of Jupiter Caesar, and asked,
when taken to the Conciergerie, for fresh wall-paper on
the cell he knew so well, the young fry of the inde-
pendent press did not go to prison so gaily. I have
seen many a young journalist weep when I showed
him my warrant for his arrest — warrants of which my
pockets were full. Later, these very men became polit-
ical personages only because they had slept against
their will in Sainte-Pelagie — less through the fault
of their articles, usually immature and colourless, than
through the over-zeal of the henchmen of imperialism.
How many " irreconcilables " were recruited in this
way to the Opposition, then organizing under M. Thiers
without a sound! — disciplining themselves, like the
companions of Ulysses, before entering the wooden
horse that was to batter down the imperial edifice!
These recruits became a legion when the pistol of
Prince Pierre Bonaparte brought down the youngest
of those journalists and decided the fate of the Empire.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 205
That knell, which echoed from Auteuil to the Tuileries,
would not have made Napoleon III turn pale if he had
had the sense to laugh at Rochefort instead of hunting
him down by his private police.
If the politicians at the Prefecture had not forced
Rochefort to quit the Figaro, he would not have started
the Lanterne, and the Lanterne would not have led
to the deputation.
But if the Emperor knew not how to laugh, his
Court did. At Compiegne, where the courtiers, men
and women, clustered, the Lanterne was ever in de-
mand. Nothing amused them more than to see their
history traced in lines of fire by that satirist. Nothing
pleases valets so much as scandals told against their
masters. At Compiegne Rochefort's Lanterne was in
every hand, — those of the coachmen, those of the
At Compiegne other events took place, all tending to
one result — the fall of the Empire. Towards the end of
the year 1869, the Emperor was alone one evening in
the Chateau about nine o'clock. He walked up and
down the room, visibly preoccupied and apparently
waiting for some one. The palace was plunged in dark-
ness and deep silence. The great vestibule, where a
footman was dozing, was scarcely lighted. In a salon
adjoining the private apartment of the Emperor, a few
ordnance officers were seated at a distance from their
captain, who was reading, with a bored air, in the chim-
Beyond the courtyard, near the forest, a few faint
206 MEMOIRS OF
lights showed groups of men, pacing to and fro, be-
tween the forest and the courtyard. These men
formed a squad from the Prefecture. By their attitude
it was evident that some one was expected, some one
whose coming was both desired and dreaded.
Who was it ?
It was fimile Ollivier.
Nine strokes sounded from the clock — the same
that had marked the hour of the first interview between
Napoleon I and Marie Louise in that very palace. A
movement was seen at the edge of the forest. It was
caused by the police of Paris gathering closer around
the man whom the Emperor awaited.
Surely it was a strange thing to see an Emperor, who,
to the eyes of France, seemed to be the master of all
things, reduced to receive in profound mystery the man
whom he had selected to restore to the nation the
liberty he had taken from it, the prestige he had caused
it to lose. Yet to this had the Emperor come in 1869.
He escaped from the Tuileries because Prussian spies
swarmed in his apartments; at Compiegne he escaped
his own courtiers to receive a man, formerly his enemy,
who promised him the support of those who he might
have known must ever remain his implacable enemies.
Morny had crowned the conspirator-prince at a period
when the Empire had been prepared for by.an abortive
Republic, fimile Ollivier could only hasten the fall of
that Empire by blunders that gave reason to a Re-
public. Avoiding the guard-house, this renegade of " the
five " was forced to issue from the forest like a robber
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 207
from a wood. The Emperor at all periods of his life
and reign liked above all things surprises, circumven-
tions, and the wiles of the police.
Emile Ollivier became Minister because that demo-
crat, getting into the skin of an imperialist, persuaded
the Emperor, and the Empress who believed him, that
the youth of France was ready to follow him against
the old Napoleonic party. Yet the strange manner in
which Ollivier entered Compiegne by night, his head
hidden in a muffler, without his spectacles, and escorted
by policemen, could not have given the Emperor any
great guarantee of success. In fact, this face-about of
the Empire towards Liberty simply unchained her to
its ruin !
On this evening, when the Emperor had carefully
evaded the Court to meet Ollivier in secret, he received
him as he had twenty years earlier received his brother,
that renegade from Orleanism, as Ollivier was from
Republicanism. It was the same interview — except
that the Emperor, ill, anxious, and morose, had no
longer the phlegmatic audacity of former days, and
Ollivier had nothing of Morny but his self-assurance.
Ollivier left Compiegne, as Morny had left the
filysee, at one in the morning. What had passed during
that long interview? The walls of the palace alone
could tell, and they were as dumb as the walls of the
What was not a mystery for any one was that after
this interview, as after the Elysee interview, Ollivier, like
Morny, had his interviews, great and small, with their
2o8 MEMOIRS OF
Majesties. Those mysterious meetings ended, the one
in civil war and the massacre of the Boulevard Mont-
martre; the other in foreign war, made with a light
heart, and the invasion of France !
Such was one of the last mysteries which in 1869
passed under the eyes of the police in the forest of
Compiegne. We knew of others equally important
the consequences of which were as fatal to France.
The last, and perhaps the most important in its im-
mediate consequences, was brought about by La
Prussienne, that spy of Prussia whom I have already
named. The harm this woman did to the Empire and
to Napoleon III was, I repeat, incalculable. It con-
tributed largely, when their Majesties became aware
that they were duped, to the declaration of the Prus-
On the day of a hunt at Compiegne — hunts were
numerous in the forest, and were made the pretext of
many a rendezvous — La Prussienne was tete-a-tete
with the Emperor, whom she ruled, no longer restrain-
ing herself in what she said. She ridiculed the Empress,
telling him of her bigotry, which, she said, expended
itself on amulets; of her mind which never went beyond
frivolities ; of her qualities which were neither good nor
bad but absolutely negative.
Her Majesty, who had many reasons to distrust La
Prussienne, warned by her own spies, arrived in the
midst of this interview like an avenging Diana. What
then took place, my agents who witnessed the scene
scarcely ventured to tell me. Suffice it to say that
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 209
on the following day the Empress announced her
departure for Egypt.
This journey to the East was undertaken, said the
official newspapers, to visit the Holy Land, and accept
the amiable invitations of the Sultan Abdul Aziz and
of the Khedive to be present at the opening of the
Suez Canal — a visit that gave the august lady much
pleasure, judging by her letters to the Emperor. Her
absence lasted till Prussia threw off the mask and com-
pelled the Emperor to declare war. We can imagine
with what satisfaction the Empress welcomed the pro-
clamation of hostilities, which Emile Ollivier announced
from the tribune with so light a heart in presence of the
representatives of the nation.
THE FIRST THUNDERCLAP — TROPMANN
THE Coup d'Etat had, in one night, taken
France by the throat. Two thunderclaps
preceded her deliverance before the Empire
disappeared under the shame of Sedan and the inva-
sion. These thunderclaps were the crimes of Trop-
mann and Prince Pierre Bonaparte.
At the beginning of these memoirs, when speaking
of the end of Louis-Philippe's reign, I said that there
are fatal hours when, for individuals as for nations, all
things become a cause of decadence and cataclysm.
That hour was now approaching Napoleon III pre-
cisely as it had come to the king whom he had de-
The Emperor had lost his Due de Morny as Louis-
Philippe, at the end of his reign, had lost the Princess
Amelie, his Egeria. Lonely, ill, exhausted, like the
old king against whom he had so long conspired, the
Emperor found himself in exactly the same situation
— except that he, far more guilty than Louis-Philippe,
was brought, in 1869, face to face with crimes more
shocking and terrible than that of the Due de Praslin,
odious as it was.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 211
Late in the evening of September 19, 1869, a hack-
ney-coach stopped before the gate of Pantin [a village
near Paris in the direction of Saint-Denis]. The night
was dark, the wind blew hard, and thick clouds veiled
the face of the moon. The coach, after stopping a
moment at the gate of Pantin as though the driver
were undecided, continued its way, the man whipping
up his horses at the order of a second man, who
put his head out of the carriage-window and ordered
him to drive on.
This second man sat on the back seat of the car-
riage, opposite to a lady who had beside her two young
children. Three other children were on the back seat
with the man. The carriage proceeded till the driver
was told to stop in a road bordered on one side by
a large grass-field. The man in the coach got out
with the lady and the two younger children. He told
the others to stay where they were :
" We are going," he said, " to meet your father, and
will bring him back with us."
So saying, he pointed to a high white wall at the
farther end of the field which gleamed now and then in
the uncertain rays of the moon. The man walked first,
the lady, carrying the youngest child, followed him.
The driver, to pass the time, got down from his
seat and stood with his back to the field, talking to
the three children left in the coach. He asked them,
through the carriage-window, why they were travel-
ling so late.
"We don't know," replied the eldest of the three.
212 MEMOIRS OF
" Our papa has sent for us, and his friend brought us
here to meet him."
It was cold; the wind whistled noisily about them,
drowning all other sounds except the barking of a dog
and a few cries from the direction of the wall.
About twenty-five minutes had elapsed when the
man returned. He told the three children to get out,
and said imperatively to the driver :
" You can go. It is decided that we stay here."
The coach was turned round and went back to
The next morning the owner of the field, named
Langlois, saw, on walking across his property, a sin-
gular mound that he had not seen before. He dug
into it, out of curiosity, and presently recoiled in terror.
Little by little, he uncovered the body of a woman :
then the bodies of five children. The mother had
twenty-nine wounds, all in the back, two in the loins.
These wounds, and those on the children, seemed to
have been made with a pickaxe.
But by the contortions of these bodies, the first
witness of the horrible sight declared, even before the
experts confirmed him, that life was not extinct when
the earth was thrown upon them. They had been
The news of this horrible discovery in the Lang-
lois field spread rapidly. It burst like a thunderbolt,
spreading stupefaction and horror throughout Paris.
The magistracy was at once informed, and immedi-
ately I was ordered to attend some of them to the
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 213
scene of the crime. A numerous and compact crowd
were hurrying from all parts of Paris ; it invaded the
Langlois field so that we found it necessary to call
out a large police force to control the over-excited
populace, already too much stirred up by political ques-
tions. The first care, therefore, of the magistracy was
to satisfy public opinion ; to give food for its curiosity
and its desires for vengeance.
At any cost, the guilty persons must be discovered,
a full explanation must be given of the crime, or the
Opposition journals, to please the excited populace,
would not fail to say that the police department was
so absorbed by politics that it had no agents to hold
criminals in awe and to answer for the public safety.
I went to work at once, sending at the same time
my craftiest sleuth-hounds into all corners of Paris
and along the lines of all the railways. I thus learned
from various reports that a very young man, a mech-
anician, had lately lived, up to the evening before the
murder, at the Hotel du Chemin de fer du Nord, but
that since the murder he had not returned there.
Another report informed me that on the night of
the murder one of my agents had noticed a hackney-
coach proceeding towards Pantin, in which were more
persons than the law allowed ; they were seven in all,
— five children, a woman about forty years of age, and
a young man about twenty. When my agent tried to
follow and stop the carriage, because the driver was
cheating his company, he was himself stopped short
by a man who said that he owed him money. The
2i 4 MEMOIRS OF
time it took my inspector to convince the man of his
error made him lose sight of the carriage, of which he
had not had time to take the number.
The inspector then contented himself by waiting on
the spot where the carriage had passed him, reflecting
that the driver, being at the extremity of Paris at such
an hour, must return the same way in order to put up
his coach for the night. He was right ; the carriage
came back empty, but the driver was urging his horses
so that they passed like the wind, and the officer was
unable either to stop or follow them. But he saw that the
coach belonged to the Compagnie des Petites-Voitures.
Thirdly, a photograph found on the body of the
woman was the portrait of a man who resembled, in
all respects, the description given me of the young
mechanician who had lodged at the Railway Hotel.
Moreover, the same inspector who had obtained the
description of him at the hotel, was quite certain he
had seen that very man late on the night of the mur-
der, in the rue Grange-Bateliere, coming out, in com*
pany with another man, from a tavern kept by a Mme.
D , who went by the name of " the woman in spec*
These two men seemed nervous: they wore muf-
flers; their caps were pulled over their eyes; they
were dressed as if for a long journey; and they took
the direction of the railroad to Havre. As all the other
reports coincided with this one, I did not hesitate to go
myself to Havre, convinced that if not too late, I was
on the track of the murderer.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 215
Meantime I had obtained much additional informa-
tion which was chiefly as follows : I discovered and
questioned the driver of the carriage, who declared
that about half-past ten o'clock that Sunday evening
a young man about twenty years of age had engaged
him ; the young man was accompanied by a lady and
five children. The driver's description of this young
man tallied with the photograph found on the woman,
and also with the description given of the young mech-
anician at the Railway Hotel. The coachman related
to me how the murderer had made the mother and five
children leave the carriage, declaring that he himself
had no suspicion of what was taking place.
Next: the young man had registered at the Rail-
way Hotel as Jean Kinck, mechanician, from Roubaix.
I learned, on going myself to the hotel, that about six
o'clock on the Sunday evening, a lady with five child-
ren had arrived at the hotel and had asked for Jean
Kinck, who was out. She went away, after engaging
two rooms and leaving a basket. She did not return.
I discovered by questioning all the people of the
neighbourhood that about the same hour a young man
bought, in the shop of a tool-maker, a pickaxe and a
spade, which he returned and took away at eight o'clock.
According to the information given by the coachman
the murders must have been done about eleven o'clock
I had no sooner reached Havre than I heard of an
unexpected arrest made by a gendarme of the maritime
department. He had seen in a tavern in the rue
216 MEMOIRS OF
Royale a group of strange-looking individuals and he
asked for their names and papers. One of them (whose
age and appearance answered to those of the young
man of whom I was in search) replied that he was a
foreigner. All the more reason, said the gendarme,
that he should show his papers. On his refusal to do
so, the gendarme arrested him, saying that he should
take him to the police court, where he could make his
explanation. He took him by way of the quay.
The young man took advantage of the passing of
a carriage to wrench himself free from the grasp of the
gendarme. He rushed to the edge of the quay, sprang
upon a raft, and thence into the water, with the evi-
dent intention of drowning himself. A ship's caulker,
who saw the act, jumped in himself, without waiting to
remove his clothes, and brought the man to the sur-
face quite exhausted. When placed upon the quay he
was unconscious, and they carried him thence to the
police station, where an apothecary brought him to,
after which he was taken to the hospital.
When his clothes were removed, a bundle of papers
were found carefully concealed under his shirt. These
papers appeared to show that he was no other than
Jean Kinck of Roubaix.
As soon as I learned these details from the magis-
tracy of Havre, to whom I had immediately made
myself known, I asked to be taken to the hospital
where lay the man whom chance had thus given into
my hands as the murderer of the victims at Pantin.
I found him lying in a bed, guarded by two police
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 217
agents, and wrapped in a white woollen counterpane,
with which he tried to conceal his features. There
was no doubt that he answered to the description of
the man I was in search of.
I had not come a moment too soon ; for on further
inquiry, I found that his passage had been taken on
a ship sailing for New York on the following day. On
the road to Havre he seemed to have passed under
various names, such as Wolff, Vander, Gustave Kinck,
and Jean Kinck. I returned to the hospital at eleven
o'clock fully convinced that I held the murderer. The
hospital doctor having assured me he could safely be
removed to Paris, I took him to the railroad and placed
him in a reserved first-class carriage. Having passed
a comparatively calm night, the nervous shock which
followed his immersion in the water had passed off,
leaving him very weak, and he walked with difficulty,
so that the head warder of the prison had to take him
by the arm and support him. He was not handcuffed.
During the journey I did not question him ; I al-
lowed him to keep silence. His state of nervous and
feverish irritation showed itself in abrupt, impatient
gestures. When we reached Paris, about four in the
afternoon, I took him direct to the Morgue, where
the keeper, the judge, and the physicians, already noti-
fied by me, awaited us. The six bodies found in the
Langlois field were then in the purification-room, be-
hind the exposition-room.
I took the man I supposed to be Jean Kinck direct
to the six bodies lying on marble slabs. The examin-
218 MEMOIRS OF
ing judge, who expected us, said to him, pointing to the
" Do you recognize those persons ? "
The murderer advanced a few steps. He scratched
his ear in the way that a cat does. Shrugging his
shoulders, he turned half-round, and said with great
coolness and with no trembling of the voice :
" Yes, monsieur."
Then, pointing with his forefinger to each body in
succession, he added :
" That is Mme. Kinck ; that is Emile ; that is Henri ;
that is Alfred ; that is Achille ; that is little Marie."
He looked at them without even uncovering his
head. Those present were horrified by such an exhi-
bition of cynicism.
This confronting over, I and the murderer (whom
I did not leave a moment), with the assistant chief of
police, and my secretary, S , went into the council-
room to sign the proces-verbal. Here the prisoner, in
spite of his cynicism, seemed to make a strong effort
over himself. Recoiling from the table where lay the
papers, he declared that he had been only the instru-
ment of Jean Kinck and his eldest son, Gustave.
" I helped, it is true," he said ; " I pushed them into
the trench ; but I did not strike, — I only held them
while they were struck by Jean and Gustave Kinck
and — "
He muttered a third name, but did not complete it.
He lowered his head, and said no more. The judge,
after waiting for a while, said :
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 219
11 Then you had accomplices ? "
" Perhaps," he replied, without raising his head. Then
he added : " But you will never find them. I am enough
Nothing further could be got out of him. I then,
with my secretary, took him to the Mazas Prison,
having the greatest difficulty in forcing our carriage
through the surging crowd, already dangerously ex-
At Mazas the murderer gave his true name to the
director of the prison. It was Jean-Baptiste Tropmann,
age nineteen, born at Cernay, on the upper Rhine, by
profession a mechanician. I left him in Mazas with
four watchers ordered to observe his every movement.
All these discoveries only cast more mystery still
over the horrible catastrophe. Where was the father
Kinck ? Where was the son Gustave ? The curiosity
and impatience of the public, over-excited by the hor-
ror of the affair, were pushed to the highest pitch,
How could it be otherwise? Tropmann was arrested,
but justice was not enlightened as to the real truth of
the horrible affair; and it could not be until Jean and
Gustave Kinck were found, dead or alive !
Once more chance, or Providence, took part in this
memorable case. On the 26th of September a man
named Hughs, a butcher, discovered at one side of the
Langlois field another trench, older in date than that
dug for Mme. Kinck and her children. In it was the
body of a man with several wounds in his breast. The
head, with much of the hair torn off, showed a long
220 MEMOIRS OF
struggle with his adversary. Not far from the trench
a hatchet was found, lightly covered with earth ; also
some handfuls of brown hair the color of Tropmann s
hair. No doubt remained : Tropmann was not the mere
assistant in the murder of the Kinck family, he was
the principal murderer himself.
When the face of the victim, covered with coagu-
lated blood, was washed, it was seen to be that of a
young man with round, beardless cheeks and chest-
nut hair. A scar under the right ear was recognized
by two inhabitants of Roubaix as a well-known mark
on Gustave Kinck, the eldest son. It was evident that
he was a victim, not a murderer, and that his slayer
was the man who accused him — Tropmann.
This discovery was scarcely made before all Paris
rushed to the Langlois field. More than six hundred
thousand persons passed, from first to last, up the rue
Lafayette on this dismal pilgrimage. When the com-
missaries of police reached the place to transfer the
body to the Morgue, the railway station was so jammed
that they had to shut the iron wickets to prevent the
people from passing in or out. The body was placed
in a cart and covered with straw, and escorted by
a squadron of gendarmes on horseback. But even so,
my agents had great difficulty in getting through
the crowd, which demanded with odious cries to see the
Meantime I went to Mazas with a street-coach to
take Tropmann to the Morgue — though without tell-
ing him where we were going. I hoped, by putting
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 221
him suddenly face to face with his seventh victim,
to shake his coolness and get the better of his self-
We reached the great hall where the doctors and
the judge awaited us. I placed Tropmann instantly
before the body. He gave a cry of horror, exclaiming:
" Ah ! le malheureux ! " [the unfortunate fellow !]
Then, to disguise the painful impression caused by
this unexpected sight, which destroyed his system of
defence, he passed his handkerchief over his eyes and
thus concealed his face.
The judge said imperatively :
"Put down that handkerchief — you are not weep-
ing — and look ! "
The wretch then crossed his arms on his chest, and
without removing his cap he fixed his eyes on the
" Do you recognize this corpse ? " asked the judge.
11 Yes," he said in a curt voice ; " yes, that is Gus-
" Whom you murdered ? " said the judge quickly.
" Oh no ! " cried Tropmann ; " his father did it."
" But you said," replied the judge, " that the son
with the father committed these murders. How, then,
can the murderer be murdered ? "
" Because the father, probably, killed him that he
might not some day confess this abominable crime."
11 That is false," said the judge. " You are imposing
on us to keep up your line of defence. But you -now
know that we cannot believe what you say."
222 MEMOIRS OF
" Oh ! " exclaimed Tropmann, not answering the
judge, and speaking as if to himself, " I wish I were
in his place."
" Whose place ? " asked the judge.
Tropmann kept silence, and the judge said :
Tropmann made no reply ; his obstinate silence cut
short the investigation. In spite of the unexpected
shock which his soul must have felt at the sight of
that seventh dead body, his face, during this second
confronting (which lasted about twenty-five minutes),
betrayed no emotion. I watched him with the closest
attention, and I observed, however, that there was less
cynicism in his manner than on the former occasion.
He was quite as calm, but more thoughtful. He evi-
dently understood that the discovery of this seventh
body weakened his plan of defence. As I took him
back to Mazas, Tropmann did not say a single word
After the discovery of Gustave Kinck's body labour-
ers were set to work to dig over the whole of that fatal
field, in the expectation that Jean Kinck's body was
also there. In vain ; nothing further was found.
It now became imperative to find Jean Kinck, dead
or alive. As for me, whose active career had been
signalized by very many delicate and difficult arrests
of great criminals, I found myself, at sixty-five years of
age, confronted by an assassin whose crimes went far
beyond any I had hitherto come in contact with. The
means that I now took to discover traces of Trop-
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 223
mann's eighth victim came more from my instinct
than my reason.
I asked myself why Tropmann had lodged for a
month close to the station of the Eastern Railroad ;
and why he took his meals in a house serving as a
centre for Germans, Alsatians, and other foreigners,
whose differences were often settled by knives. Ever
since the Jud affair, I knew from what quarter blew
the wind of assassination. Instinctively, after studying
the papers found on Tropmann when dragged from
the water at Havre, my eyes turned towards his native
country. Everything told me that the body of Jean
Kinck might be in Alsace, and that we had discov-
ered the finale of the crimes before discovering their
beginning. The result showed that I was not mistaken.
Tropmann could not have been alone in the com-
mission of these murders ; the time, the circumstances,
his physical strength, all forbade it. He might have
been, like Jud, mixed up, perhaps unconsciously, in
grave events which blindly controlled him. These
crimes, which might have had cupidity for their motive
in the first instance, might also have been connected, by
some mysterious affiliation, with causes of a different
and far more important order than mere love of gain.
That political causes were concerned in these murders
is my firm conviction. The arm that struck the Kinck
family — shortly before the invasion — may have been
that of a common murderer, covetous and cruel, but
its victims were also the victims of the already strained
and critical situation of France.
224 MEMOIRS OF
The details ignored at the trial of this celebrated
case, the points left obscure, though pointed out to
me by Tropmann before he died, permit me no doubt
on this subject. Tropmann will ever remain as mys-
terious a personage as Jud, whose very existence has
No one, at first sight, could have discovered on Trop-
mann's features the secret propensities of his soul. This
young lad of nineteen had the gentle face of a young
girl or a divinity student. He seemed delicate ; his
general structure was lax and effeminate. But in spite
of his apparent delicacy he possessed a marvellous
agility and a latent muscular strength which must
have been a powerful help in the execution of his
crimes. He had a broad, open forehead, slightly re-
treating at the top like that of wild animals. His
chestnut hair, soft and abundant, was the object of his
particular care. The good effect of the upper part of
his face was cancelled by his large, flat ears, his nar-
row, curving nose, like the beak of a bird of prey ; by
his mouth, with its thick upper lip that a budding
moustache did not hide, and by his huge teeth. These
things gave to the lower part of his face, so gentle in
the upper part, a savage expression, recalling that of a
bulldog. His hazy eyes never brightened, except under
the touch of a strong impression; then he raised his
eyelids, which he usually kept lowered, and his glance
became keen, very brilliant, but crafty.
When he felt pressed, before his judges, by argu-
ments that proved he was lying, he made his habitual
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 225
cat-like gesture of passing his hand above his ear. But,
like all murderers whom I have known, it was by his
hands that the nature of this monster was fully re-
vealed. Although so young, his hand was dry and
wrinkled. It was a large, strong, fkshless hand, the
thumb of which reached to the upper joint of the
fingers. The wide separation between the thumb and
the forefinger gave to that unnatural, wicked hand the
look of a vulture's talon. When in the prisoner's dock
he grasped the balustrade with the long, bony fingers
of that hideous and repulsive hand, the favourable im-
pression given by his gentle countenance was effaced ;
one could think only of an octopus or some other foul
and ferocious beast.
I now set all my batteries in motion, — upon Havre,
upon Alsace, and to the east, west, and north of France,
while my assistant chief of police never quitted the
scene of the murders, exploring, with his agents, its
neighbourhood, especially the German quarter, where,
in my opinion, Tropmann had auxiliaries if not accom-
I sent my secretary, S , to Roubaix (place of
residence of the Kinck family), thence to Cernay in
Alsace, Tropmann's native place, to find Jean Kinck,
who (probably killed before his family, and missing in
Paris) might be found in his own region. A letter
found in the Kinck house at Roubaix put S on
the right track of Tropmann's last, or rather first, victim.
This letter showed that Jean Kinck, one month
before the murder of his family, had arranged to go to
226 MEMOIRS OF
Alsace with his compatriot, J. B. Tropmann, and there
found, at Guebviller (Kinck's birthplace), a manufac-
turing business. In another letter, of later date, Jean
Kinck directed his wife and children to leave Roubaix
and come with Tropmann to meet him, as soon as
their " business " should be completed. Thus he gave
the itinerary of his murderer. This letter threw a
strong light on the latter's actions. It was clear that
Tropmann, returning to Paris and leaving Jean Kinck
in Alsace, had done to him in his native country what
he went to Paris to do to the rest of the family. The
essential thing now was to find Jean Kinck, who
Tropmann still insisted was the slayer of his wife and
While I sent my secretary, S , to Alsace, to dis-
cover if possible the body of the eighth victim, which,
judging by the letters found at Roubaix, ought to be
lying somewhere between Bollwiller and Cernay, I
scarcely left Tropmann alone in his cell at Mazas.
I pressed him with questions based on those letters,
and on certain other information derived from an Alsa-
tian agent under the orders of my secretary. I knew
from him that Tropmann and Kinck had been seen
drinking together in a tavern at Bollwiller, and that
from that moment no further news of Kinck could be
obtained. Guiding myself by this information, I ques-
tioned Tropmann, who replied :
" You want to know what we did after we left Boll-
willer. Well, we went and took a lodging in the castle
of Wattviller near Cernay."
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 227
" But," I said, " that castle, like all the other castles
in Alsace, is an uninhabitable ruin."
" What does that matter," he replied, " if there are
" What could you do in cellars ? "
" Coin money. That was the business, the mine of
gold, from which we were to draw the thousand-franc
notes to cure my poverty and that of my family, and
enrich Kinck. But Kinck had scruples. He wanted
to get rich in another way — and that is what killed
" You are fooling me," I replied, " with such stones.
You have read all that in some novel."
" I am telling you the truth, Monsieur Claude."
After that, I could get nothing more out of him.
Some days later, I received from S and the
Alsatian agent, who knew the country well, a pair of
trousers spotted with blood which they had found
near the pond of Obwiller. I sent orders at once to
search the pond, and I told Tropmann, intentionally,
of what was being done.
" All nonsense ! " he said. " They will find nothing
in that pond. It is not there they ought to look. If
you don't know how to send your agents to the place
where Kinck was killed, take me to Alsace and I '11
lead you to the right spot."
I answered that it was not in my power to do that
till the body was found, when, of course, he would be
taken there to be confronted with it. I said this to
encourage his desire which he had several times ex-
228 MEMOIRS OF
pressed, doubtless believing that, once in Alsace, he
would be rescued or aided to escape by the invisible
hands that had pushed him on to do murder.
At last I received the following dispatch from Stras-
" Kinck, father, found near the castle of Herren-
fluch, in the forest of Uffholtz, Upper Rhine."
At the same time, I received from the authorities of
Belfort a dispatch, dated Cernay, as follows :
" Corpse Kinck, father, found at i .30, near the edge
of the forest adjoining the fields of M. Aime Gros,
in the judicial district of Belfort, commune of Watt-
viller, near the ruins of the castle. Body in putre-
faction. Unrecognizable ; but socks knitted of same
wool as those of Kinck children. Linen marked Jean
This time Tropmann had not lied. Nevertheless
chance alone had led to the discovery of the body
at the moment when I was beginning to despair of
ever finding it. My explorers were guided by a man
named Heguette, of Wattviller. He, seeing a quantity
of crows collected on one spot, suspected that there
might be something there to attract them. The party
advanced to the spot near the old castle and discov-
ered the body !
On receipt of this news from my secretary, I has-
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 229
tened to inform the Prefect of Police and the Minister
of the Interior. To my great surprise, I did not re-
ceive until the following day an answer, which may be
rendered thus :
" Hasten nothing ; let things take their course."
It was exactly the same as in the Jud affair! I was
ordered to be inactive at the moment when the action
of the law ought to have been quickest to discover
the whole truth ! Once more I understood that in the
Tropmann affair as in the Jud affair there was some-
thing other than the double question of robbery and
Before entering upon the last phases of this cele-
brated case — the trial of which was so managed as to
make Tropmann alone responsible for the crimes —
we must examine the political situation of Alsace in
1868. At this period all that part of the Vosges which
lies between Mulhausen and Switzerland was in the
grasp of a dumb terror; it no longer possessed itself.
The condition of this part of France was intolerable
for the notables of the region. They had met it by
isolating themselves from the population, kept in a state
of ferment by the agents of the German Protestant
Most of the old castles in the valleys of the Vosges
had become the rendezvous of Field-Marshal Moltke's
officers. Concealed in the ruined towers — last remains
of secular disasters — they studied the topography of
2 3 o MEMOIRS OF
a territory they were resolved to reconquer at any cost.
The apprehensions that these mysterious incursions
spread through the region were skilfully made use of
by criminals. German spies lurked like owls in the
pine forests, protected by the old ruined castles, in the
towers of which they established their headquarters;
and criminals, smugglers, and counterfeiters, lurking
in the cellars of those very castles, were not afraid
of the Germans — they felt sure, if not of protec-
tion, at least of tolerance from the enemies of their
In 1869, our stealthy neighbours had entangled in
the meshes of their diplomacy all the inhabitants of
Alsace, — as I had found to my cost, nine years earlier,
when I went from Mulhausen to Ferrette on the track
of another murderer. Well, I do not hesitate to say
that the same policy that hindered the search for truth
when I returned from that mission now suspended,
in the Tropmann case, the necessary judicial investi-
gations, which were not allowed to go beyond the
discovery of Jean Kinck's body.
When Tropmann learned of that discovery, which
the judge made known to him, hoping to induce him
to confess, the murderer, by nature very dissimulating
and very deliberate, shut himself up in fresh reserve
against the magistracy. He said absolutely nothing
more to them. But some days later, deciding to try
every chance to make the authorities send him to
Alsace, where he hoped to gain his liberty, he wrote
me the following note :
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 231
Monsieur Claude, — I beg you to come to my cell
as soon as possible. I have very serious revelations
to make you. I salute you.
J. B. Tropmann.
After taking the opinion of the examining judge
from whom I received the advice to give little credit
to the prisoner's confidences, I went to see the latter.
Evidently it was feared in high places that he would
say too much. I divined that thought in the judge's
mind ; nevertheless I was prepared to profit by what
Tropmann might say, for he had certainly of late been
in a vein of truthfulness.
As soon as he saw me he received me with an eager-
ness that contrasted with his usual taciturnity. After
sending away the gaolers, I told him I was ready to
receive his serious revelations.
" Monsieur Claude," he said, " since the discovery
of Kinck, pere, I have nothing more to conceal. To
deserve the indulgence of the law, I have only to tell
the truth. Well, you know already, do you not, that
it was I who killed Jean Kinck, and that it was I who
buried him ? "
" You cannot deny the crime," I answered, " inas-
much as you gave us indications as to where the body
would be found."
" Do you know how he died ? "
" Yes, by prussic acid."
" Do you know how I procured it ? "
" No," I said.
232 MEMOIRS OF
" By electro-chemical means, which are very valuable
in the coining of counterfeit money. There is a sys-
tem of electro-silvering and gilding, in which cyanide
of potassium is used. In using this system for our
monetary work, I became familiar with that poison;
and from that to prussic acid you know there is but
11 Why," I asked " inasmuch as M. Kinck, according
to you, consented to become your accomplice at the
Wattviller castle, why did you kill him as soon as he
became a useful associate ? "
" Because M. Kinck, whose honesty was perpetually
at war with his avarice, refused, at the last moment, to
be our associate."
"And yet, " I objected, " did he not write to his wife
that he was certain of making with you over a mil-
"Yes, but by other means than that of coining."
" Do you know that means ? "
" It was because I did know it that I killed him."
"What was it?"
" Chance gave it to him one day when he was in the
ruins of the old castle where we were to make our
workshop for counterfeiting."
" You puzzle me," I said.
" Well," replied Tropmann, smiling, " I shan't puzzle
you any longer. Kinck told me that he had overheard,
the previous night, a party of strangers talking with
great eagerness in one of the towers of the old castle.
They were talking German, and what Kinck heard
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 233
was neither more nor less than projects of war against
France. They were to bring about a certain victory
for Germany and the partition of Alsace. Kinck then
said to me : ■ You understand, my dear Tropmann, that
I have no need now to go on with you in a business that
is repugnant to my honesty. I possess a state secret
which will give me a million. I have noted down word
for word in my pocket-book the conversation of those
future conquerors. By warning the Emperor of what
I know, of what I have noted down, I am certain of
a million. As you wished to associate me in your gains,
so will I out of gratitude associate you in mine.' "
" All that is not serious," I said, interrupting him,
" any more than your tale of false coinage, which you
invented to blacken the memory of your benefactor. But
even admitting your version, the facts disprove it. How
can any one believe that you killed a man because he
told you his plans and promised you a share in the
" It becomes believable," he answered, " when I tell
you that I met an old man in the forest who told me
he had overheard our conversation, adding, ' the secret
that man knows must die with him.' "
14 Then it was not merely to obtain Kinck's million
that you killed him ? "
" No, monsieur."
" But," I added, " you had no such reason for exter-
minating the whole family at Pantin."
44 That family was informed of the secret by Kinck,
and therefore it had to die."
234 MEMOIRS OF
" And so, according to you," I said, in a tone of ban-
tering pity, "you acted in behalf of a foreign policy? "
" Oh no ! not I," cried Tropmann, " but my accom-
" Name them so that I may give some credence to
" No, I cannot — no, I must not ! " cried Tropmann,
with extraordinary animation. " Take me to Bollviller
where Kinck hid his pocket-book, and you will know
" You know very well," I said, " that I have not the
power to do so; tell me only the place where Kinck
hid that pocket-book — you have already indicated
where his body could be found."
" Nonsense ! " cried Tropmann, laughing noisily ;
" you held out that hope to me before ; I shall not be
such a fool as to be caught twice. It is I who must
conduct you to the place where that pocket-book is
hidden, or you shall know nothing — nothing — no-
thing ! "
He said those three words in a tone of determina-
To pique this German, whose obstinacy seemed about
to stop his confidences, I answered :
" You will say nothing because you have nothing to
say. Your coining of false money, your state secret,
your pocket-book, are so many fabrications to gain
time and get yourself taken to Alsace where you
expect to escape."
"And if I do nurse that hope," said Tropmann, with
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 235
a jeering air, " I must have accomplices — accomplices
whom you deny. If your judges are such fools as to
suppose I have the superhuman strength to handle a
pickaxe, a spade, a knife, a hatchet, and kill six persons
and bury the bodies without assistance, they are not
fools enough to think I could escape, like an eel, from
your gendarmes without the help of associates. If I
have associates, you will admit they are not saints;
they may be counterfeiters — or they may be spies
such as you set to watch me here."
I felt I was beaten by his logic, but all the same,
I saw his object : to get away from Paris and work at
his liberty in Alsace. I answered :
" You do very wrong to tarnish the reputation of an
honest man like M. Kinck."
" Let me alone ! " he exclaimed, shaking his shoul-
ders. " If Kinck had been as scrupulous as you make
him out, would he have gone with me to Alsace?
Would he have taken a circuitous way to get there?
Would he have let himself be taken mysteriously to
the depths of the forest, to the ruins of an old castle,
where men find — by spying, counterfeiting, smug-
gling — an easy way to fortune — when they don't find
" You are a clever man, Tropmann," I said, watch-
ing him; "you have the art of putting things together
which serves you well to shuffle on to others that which
weighs upon you alone."
"You say that, Monsieur Claude," said the astute
Alsatian, "because you have no reply to make to me.
236 MEMOIRS OF
I have not your education, nor your mind, nor your ex-
perience. If I am clever, as you say, it is because I am
telling you the truth about my crimes — yes, my crimes.
You see that I do not any longer deny them. You know
very well that if the Kinck family had not voluntarily
associated itself in my projects — I mean the scheme
of which I told you — I could not have been their friend.
Would Mme. Kinck, who did not like me, have told
her neighbours before starting for Paris, that she was
very happy because her husband was about to make
a million ? Would she have gone with me and taken her
whole family by night to a lonely place unless for some
mysterious affair for which no precautions were too
great ? All that is plain as day ; and so are the associ-
ates I must have had at Pan tin and elsewhere. You
have but to will to know them ! Take me to Alsace.
Everything is contained in Kinck's pocket-book. It will
be seen that without my accomplices — the instruments
of an affair which did not concern me — I should not
have killed a family which was, in fact, my milch cow.
Now I have said all. If you do not believe me, so much
the worse for you. If they do not take me to Alsace
to prove the truth of what I say, it is because they want
not to know the truth"
I report this conversation verbatim. I give it for
what it may be worth. If it is absurd, its absurdity is
not without logic. It is not more inexplicable than
the mysterious journey of Kinck and Tropmann into
Alsace, or the rendezvous in Paris at night with Mme.
Kinck and her children to which she readily consented.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 237
To fathom these apparent absurdities we need the key
to the mysteries that enfold, and always will enfold, the
incomprehensible actions of the victims and their mur-
derer. Tropmann was not such a fool as to expect that
he could by his butchery obtain the money of the
Kincks; why then destroy at one blow a family which
was to him the layer of golden eggs?
Reflecting on the statements made to me by Trop-
mann, and remembering my former adventure in the
Vosges, an adventure as unlikely as the assertions of
this criminal, I ended by believing that he might have
told me the truth.
This opinion was confirmed by the attitude taken by
my chiefs when I reported to them, word for word, the
conversation I had had with this monster. I was en-
joined to say nothing about his "absurd statements," to
keep them to myself, and to take out of my proces-ver-
baux all that related to politics and to the "pretended
accomplices" of Tropmann.
On the 28th of December, 1869, Tropmann was
arraigned before the court of assizes of the Seine. [It
is not necessary to give the details of the trial which
was so conducted as to set aside all evidence tending to
show that Tropmann had accomplices. The gist of the
defence offered by his counsel, the celebrated Mai t re
Lachaud, was as follows. After recalling the points left
obscure by the prosecution, and dwelling on the fact
that no profit from his holocaust could have accrued to
the murderer, Maitre Lachaud said :]
"Let us now come to the question of accomplices.
238 MEMOIRS OF
The murder of the father might have been committed
alone ; the murder of Gustave might have been com-
mitted alone; but the killing of the rest of the family
could not have been committed alone. It is impossible.
I should say so even if I had no witnesses — but I have
them; even if no one had seen those accomplices — but
they were seen.
" What says the prosecution ? Here we must examine
closely. The prosecution says that Tropmann bought
the spade and pickaxe at five o'clock ; that he returned
and took them away at eight o'clock; that he then took
the omnibus to Pantin, dug the trench, returned to
Paris, went to the Railway Hotel, found the Kinck
family, put them into a carriage and went with them to
the place indicated by the coachman Bardot. There he
made the mother and two of the children get out; he
took them across a field and killed them. He then
returned for the other three children, took them and
killed them. He then buried all their bodies, smoothed
the earth carefully, and returned to Paris between five
and six o'clock a. m. That is how, says the prosecution,
the thing was done.
" Permit me to tell you, first, that time, actual time,
is lacking. Second, that witnesses have given details
which prove that Tropmann had accomplices.
" First, as to time. Tropmann bought the implements
at five o'clock. He called for them at eight o'clock.
Was it he who was seen to take the omnibus to Pantin ?
No one knows. If it was he, he must have taken it some
minutes before nine. It reached the Four Roads cross-
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 239
way at nine. From there he had 750 yards to walk to
the place where the trench was to be dug. And that
trench — what were its dimensions? 10 feet long by
30 inches wide, and 20 inches deep. Can you tell me
how long it would take a man to dig such a trench ?
"Next: he returned to Paris, went to the Railway
Hotel, found the Kinck family, put them into a carriage,
and started again. What o'clock was it then? The
coachman tells us it was fifty minutes past ten when
they got into the carriage. Will you tell me how, in so
short a time, he could have gone to the Langlois field,
dug the grave, returned to Paris, and collected the
Kinck family. Here the prosecution breaks down be-
fore a physical impossibility. When Tropmann says:
'I had accomplices; when I reached the place the
trench was dug,' does not that commend itself to your
minds as true ?
"I continue: Tropmann takes the carriage at fifty
minutes past ten. They drive to the corner of the
Four Roads. From there to the spot where the trench
is dug is 750 yards. He takes his first three victims
there and kills them. Then he returns over the 750
yards for the other three victims. How long was he
absent on that first trip ? The coachman says twenty
minutes. Is it possible that in twenty minutes he could
have walked 1500 yards and killed three persons? If
he had taken an hour, — three quarters of an hour
even, — I might admit it, — but twenty minutes! it is
" Had this man herculean strength he could not do
2 4 o MEMOIRS OF
impossibilities. He could not kill three persons in
a moment so that none of them uttered a cry, none
of them attempted to escape.
"Am I here to rehabilitate Tropmann? Is that my
task ? No ! But I say to the prosecution : ' There were
four murderers and you are trying only one of them.
In God's name, in the name of law and justice, seek
and you will find. Do not close the door to truth.' "
These words had no effect. The prosecution was
carried on to the last in such a way that it was im-
possible for the jurors to see clearly into these crimes.
The shades of Tropmann's accomplices passed before
their eyes like the fugitive shadows of some invisible
Tropmann was found guilty of all the murders of the
Kinck family and condemned to death. He was exe-
cuted on the 19th of January, 1870. His last words
to the excellent Abbe Croze were: "Be sure to tell
Monsieur Claude that I persist."
I went to see Tropmann as soon as he was moved
from the Conciergerie to the cells for the condemned
at La Roquette and advised him to write down all that
he had told me and send it to the Procureur General.
That evening, when I returned to his cell, he gave me
a sealed letter which I immediately forwarded to my
chiefs. It contained all that Tropmann had told me
about the pocket-book. He described it as being of
black leather, wrapped in a silk handkerchief with red
squares, buried near Cernay. It contained, he said, the
names of his accomplices. As the court had denied
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 241
the existence of those accomplices, the letter was con-
sidered a mere ruse to delay his last hour. No search
Vexed at the fixed determination of the authorities,
I took upon myself to bring Mme. D , the keeper of
the English tavern, to Tropmann's cell in La Roquette.
She had seen him on the day after the murder con-
versing with the confederate whom he found dead at
Havre. He was much moved when he saw her and
promised to write to her and give her the names of his
accomplices. He did not do so, and when I asked him
why he did not keep his promise, he answered :
"For her sake. If they knew they were in her power,
they would kill her."
Thus ended this mysterious affair. The truth of it
was not sought and will never be known.
THE SECOND THUNDERCLAP
TROPMANN had scarcely left the prison of
the Conciergerie for the cells for the con-
demned of La Roquette when a prince of the
Emperors family entered it.
On the ioth of January, 1870, a young man staggered
out of the half-opened door of a house at Auteuil, the
residence of Prince Pierre Bonaparte. Immediately
after him came another man, smaller and rather older
than the first, waving his hat and crying out :
" There 's murder at Prince Pierre's ! "
A concierge of the next house, named Fauch, saw
the first young man fall as he crossed the roadway.
Running to him, he lifted him, and carried him, by the
help of a mason, to the shop of a neighbouring apo-
thecary. There they unbuttoned his coat and found
blood flowing from a small wound in the left breast.
The death-rattle was then in his throat. The apothecary,
seeing the gravity of the case, said :
" I can do nothing without a physician."
At this moment the second person who had come
from the Prince's house entered the shop. The con-
cierge recognized him, and said :
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 243
" Monsieur, why did you not help your friend ? "
He answered, showing his torn overcoat, that he was
wounded himself. He had scarcely uttered the words
when a physician entered the shop. He came from the
side of the street where a hackney-coach had been
standing ever since the two wounded men had entered
the Prince's house. The companion of the younger
man, who now gave no signs of life, said to the
" You do not know him. He is Victor Noir."
"Yes, it is he," replied the physician, shaking his
head. " Or rather, it was he. Poor lad! It is all over! —
only twenty years old ! "
The companion of Victor Noir, killed by Prince
Pierre Bonaparte, was Ulrich de Fonvielle. In the
coach, which stood in the street during the interview
between Fonvielle and Noir with the Prince, was
Paschal Grousset, sub-editor of the Marseillaise. The
physician who ran to the help of the dying man was not
ignorant of the dreadful results of that interview, be-
cause Fonvielle had abandoned Victor Noir on leaving
the house and had gone to the coach in which was
Paschal Grousset before he went to the apothecary's.
By that time Victor Noir was dead.
Two hours later all Paris knew that the youngest
reporter of the democratic press had been killed by
a Bonaparte. The news reached the Chateau and the
faubourgs at the same time — the Chateau to take
instant means to ward off this new thunderbolt; the
faubourgs to put to profit that bolt, which, skilfully
244 MEMOIRS OF
directed, might fire all the powder-mines and blow up
Before explaining what had brought Victor Noir and
Fonvielle, openly, and Paschal Grousset, secretly, to
Auteuil, I will quote, verbatim, the statement made by
Fonvielle of the interview with the Prince, which ended
in the death of Noir.
"On the ioth of January, 1870, we went, Victor Noir
and I, to the house of Prince Pierre Bonaparte, 59, rue
d'Auteuil. We were sent by M. Paschal Grousset to
ask satisfaction from Prince Bonaparte for his insulting
articles against M. Paschal Grousset, published in the
Avenir de la Corse [Future of Corsica].
" We gave our cards to two servants. They showed
us into a little parlour on the ground floor to the right.
After a few minutes, they took us up to the first floor,
through a guard-room, to a salon. A door opened and
M. Pierre Bonaparte entered the room. We advanced
towards him, and the following words were exchanged
between us :
" * Monsieur, we come from M . Paschal Grousset to
hand you this letter. 1
" ' Then you do not come from M. Henri Rochefort,
and you are not of his crew ? '
" ' Monsieur, we come for another matter and I beg
you to take cognizance of this letter.'
" I held the letter out to him. He took it and went
to a window to read it. He read it. After crumpling
it in his hand, he returned to us.
" ' I have attacked M. Rochefort/ he said, ' because
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 245'
he is the standard-bearer of debauchery. As for
M. Grousset, I have no answer to give to him. Are you
one with those carrion ? '
" Victor Noir replied :
" ( Monsieur, we are one with our friends.'
" Then, advancing quickly, the Prince gave Victor
a blow on the face with his left hand, while with his
right he pulled a revolver out of his pocket and fired
at Noir, who sprang at the shot, put his hands to his
breast, and plunged through the door by which we had
"The murderer then rushed towards me and fired
at me. I seized a pistol which I had in my pocket, and
while I was trying to take it from its case, he sprang
upon me; but when he saw that I was armed he re-
coiled, placed himself before the door, and aimed at
me. Comprehending that if I fired, it would be said
that we were the aggressors, I opened a door behind
me and rushed out, crying: * Murder!' As I left the
room, a second shot went through my overcoat. I then
found Victor Noir, who had gone down the staircase
into the street and was dying."
Such was the statement of Ulrich de Fonvielle, in
which no question is raised as to the attitude of Paschal
Grousset's seconds towards their aggressor.
At the moment when the terrible news flew through
Paris, the Emperor was returning from a hunt. He
turned very pale on hearing it. He felt that the pistol
of his imprudent cousin had struck him even more di-
rectly than it had struck its intended victim. He seemed
246 MEMOIRS OF
overwhelmed by this new thunderbolt In spite of his
phlegmatic nature, he could not hide his poignant emo-
tions. He said to Emile Ollivier and to the Minister
of the Interior :
" I approve of what you have done. No one of my
family can be above the laws."
Prince Pierre, however, comprehending the gravity
of his position, did not wait for the authorities to make
him a prisoner. In vain did zealous Bonapartists rush
to Auteuil to congratulate him on having " responded
so well to the threats of the canaille!' The Prince
" Do not congratulate me ; it is a frightful misfor-
And he went to the Conciergerie, accompanied by the
commissary of police at Auteuil, and gave himself up.
The following is a brief statement of what led to that
" frightful misfortune," as the Prince justly termed it.
A lively polemic was going on between the editor-
in-chief of the Revanche, a liberal newspaper, published
in Corsica, and the editor-in-chief of the Avenir de la
Corse, a paper devoted to the imperial family. Prince
Pierre, who had plenty of leisure, not being employed
at the Chateau, used some of his idle hours in writing
articles to the Avenir de la Corse, flagellating the
adversaries of his family.
" Let us leave these vitioli" he wrote, " to the oppro-
brium of their treachery; and let me be permitted to
recall the saying of an American diplomatist who,
apropos of the filth that certain journals fling at the
■ MONSIEUR CLAUDE 247
Column, said that France herself, that great country,
was better known in the universe through Napoleon
than Napoleon was known through France. In spite
of the snails crawling up the bronze of that column,
tracking it with their slime, the glory of the great man
can never be tarnished.
" Let Corsicans cease to trouble themselves about the
alienations that the infamous pamphleteers of Bastia
are striving to establish in our almost unanimous na-
tional sentiments — sentiments that have risen here to
the level of a national religion.
" Let our dear Corsica be ever proud of its oneness
with France and with her Elect.
" Viva gli nostri I P. N. Bonaparte."
To this the editor of the Revanche replied :
" This Prince is not a Corsican. He stigmatizes as
beggars and vitioli independent citizens who could give
him lessons in patriotism.
11 Prince, have you forgotten what you wrote to the
citizens of Corsica in 1848, when, more republican than
ourselves, you came to beg our suffrages because you
saw in a republican government the means of making
a fortune ? Well, we note the extravagant threats of
Pierre Napoleon Bonaparte and we leave to him his
responsibility for them."
The Marseillaise, edited by Henri Rochefort, one of
its sub-editors being Paschal Grousset, now took a hand
in the matter. The quarrel grew venomous and as-
sumed in Paris other proportions than those of a mere
248 MEMOIRS OF
Corsican and local dispute. Prince Pierre wrote to
11 You insult me by the pens of your underlings. It is
very natural. But my turn will come. If your breast
is not armoured by your inkstand, if you consent to
draw the bolts which render your honourable person
inviolable, you will not find me in a palace or a castle.
I live at 59, rue d'Auteuil, and I promise, if you come
there, not to say that I am out. Awaiting your reply,
I have the honour to salute you."
It was after this exchange of letters that Paschal
Grousset sent Victor Noir and Fonvielle to demand
satisfaction of Prince Pierre Bonaparte ; Paschal Grous-
set himself awaiting the result of the interview in a
The drama of Auteuil was the prologue of another
drama, marked deep into the life of a people. That drama
was the year 1 870-1 87 1 : the year of war, of defeat, of
invasion, of the Commune — L'Annee Terrible.
That nothing might lessen the violence of the shock
which the " irreconcilables " were preparing against the
Chateau, the editor of the Marseillaise wrote and pub-
lished at the head of his paper on the evening after
the murder the following :
"I was weak enough to believe that a Bonaparte
might be something else than a murderer.
" I rashly imagined that an honourable duel was pos-
sible with a member of that family in whom murder
and stealthy traps are the tradition and the habit.
"Our collaborator, Paschal Grousset, shared my error;
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 249
and to-day we mourn our poor, dear friend, Victor Noir,
murdered by the bandit, Pierre Napoleon Bonaparte.
"For eighteen years now France has been in the
bloody hands of these cut-throats and ruffians, who, not
content with shooting down Republicans in the streets,
draw them into vile traps to murder them.
"French people! do you not think there has been
enough of this ?
" Henri Rochefort."
A pistol-shot fired on the Boulevard des Capucines
had decided the fall of Louis-Philippe's monarchy; a
pistol-shot fired by a Bonaparte decided the fall of the
Empire. Henri Rochefort picked up the ball that killed
his lieutenant and fired it, in more deadly fashion,
against a throne that had no longer any supporter but
On the day of this catastrophe I was ordered to take
steps against the hidden legions whose leaders were
now making open war against the Empire. All the po-
lice were set to work at this call of the editor-in-chief of
the Marseillaise! I sent them into the most dangerous
quarters to maintain order and control the over-excited
minds of the people. I own that I was greatly troubled
by this terrible event. Did it not once more put in
question a shaken power ? a power whose head, ill with
an incurable malady and without supporters, was at the
mercy of events that daily grew more dangerous, more
Having made my dispositions, I went to see Mme.
250 MEMOIRS OF
X , because I knew that being the neighbour of
Prince Pierre she could give me details about the
drama at Auteuil of which I was ignorant.
Around the house of Prince Pierre I found a howl-
ing, hostile crowd, swearing to avenge a " child of the
people murdered by a prince." The political police had
no need to incite it to a sham revolution. Revolution in
actual form was there. It might not conquer ; it might
again be conquered. But, in any case, it put the Empire
more and more on its defensive until the day came for
a final reckoning. It was with a wrung heart and an
anxious mind that I made my way through that hostile
crowd to the little house of Mme. X .
As soon as she saw me, she said in an angry
tone : x
"Well, Orleanist, you ought to be satisfied! That
pistol-shot brings your M. Thiers and his schemes to
I did not expect this attack.
" My dear friend," I said, "you judge me very harshly
when great evils are threatening the Empire. At a
moment when the Emperor is in need of every support
I have come here to get the assistance of your informa-
tion, your intelligence, and your energy."
"Forgive me if I have again misjudged you," she
replied. " Your action is the more honourable because
the Empire \§ fichu, archi-fichu I [done for]. Yes," she
continued, walking up and down, and as if speaking to
herself, "the Empire is lost! That Prussienne, who
has so often lived in this very house, has completed
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 251
the work that Prussia, for ten years, has kept her here
to do. The Emperor is not his own master in the
Tuileries — or anywhere else ! Surrounded by foreign-
ers in his palace, surrounded by democracy in the heart
of Paris, he will try in vain by a new plebiscite to force
the universal suffrage of the peasantry in his favour —
he can't do it ! The foreigners have joined hands with
our inside enemies to dislodge him from the Tuileries !
Has n't he himself struck the first crow-bar into his
house by admitting that Emile Ollivier, that Republican,
into it? The Emperor is destroying himself — he is
lost, I tell you. Why is he conspiring in the Tuileries
precisely as he did at Ham ? Because he no longer
knows how to reign, now that he has lost his Morny,
his Billault to govern him! Well, then, let him abdi-
cate ! "
" Do you really think," I asked, " that the Empire
has come to that ? "
Mme. X looked at me disdainfully.
"And are you simple enough," she retorted, — "you,
who saw the revolution of 1848, — not to see that
the situation to-day is precisely the same, only made
worse by the Orleanists, who, behind M. Thiers, have
joined with the Legitimists to stir up the most vio-
lent leaders of the lowest democracy ? "
" Excuse me," I said, " I 'm nothing but a humble
policeman. Living in a world of thieves and murder-
ers, I do not possess your depth of view — "
" Pshaw ! " interrupted Mme. X , who was in a
fit of temper; "enlarge that sphere of thieves and
252 MEMOIRS OF
murderers and you will have before your eyes the
sphere of the political world."
" Another time," I said, " I should be glad to listen
to your views and discuss them ; but to-night I am on
another errand in coming to see you."
" Speak, my friend, — I '11 listen," she said, sitting
down at a table laden with papers, on which I saw the
stamps of the Prefecture — those of the Division of the
" You are the neighbour of Prince Pierre, and you
must know how the affair which the Republicans are
going to make a cause against the Emperor took place."
" Yes," she answered, pointing to a paper on which
was written " Report on the Affair at Auteuil," " and
I will satisfy you at once. First, I know you are too
wise to take the testimony of that little Fonvielle to
" Of course not," I replied ; " otherwise Prince Pierre
would be a ferocious brute. But please explain to me
exactly how the thing took place."
" Willingly," she said ; " and the details I now give
you I got from the Prince's servants. Of course you
feel that Prince Pierre did not fire on Victor Noir
until he had received provocation from him and from
his companion. Now I am told that Victor Noir and
Fonvielle were not the courteous envoys of Paschal
Grousset that Fonvielle makes out. They were there
to set a trap."
" Do you think the Prince's servants are more to be
believed than Grousset's friends ? "
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 253
" In any case," she replied, " the facts speak in favour
of the Prince. Do seconds arrive in the house of a
man, to whom they bring a challenge, armed to the
teeth — like Fonvielle, who carried a sword-cane and
a six-barrelled revolver ? "
" Ah ! " I exclaimed, much astonished, " Fonvielle's
report says nothing of that."
" Neither does it mention the blow of Victor Noir's
fist applied to the Prince's cheek, while Fonvielle,
crouching behind an armchair, pulled out his pistol
to return the shot that killed Victor Noir."
" If things happened thus," I said, " they must have
been premeditated. But political passion will never
see the Prince otherwise than as black as Paschal
Grousset's friends make him out."
" No ; and that 's the misfortune of it. But, further-
more, what do you make of Paschal Grousset's presence
in the street at Auteuil when he sends his seconds in
with his challenge? How came a fourth personage,
that physician, a friend of the three men, to be there
as if by chance, in case too warm an explanation might
end in some tragic manner ? Prince Pierre's irascible
nature is well known ; it was only necessary to exas-
perate him to make him violent. That is my opinion of
how and why the affair took place, and I have so stated
it in my report to the Political Division."
While we were talking I could hear in the streets
the threatening shouts of the multitude. As I made
my way back through the furious crowd I heard threats
of death, and saw sinister faces seen only in days of
254 MEMOIRS OF
revolution. Graybeards, and children with haggard
faces, muttering what was doubtless a secret order :
" To-morrow the Chamber — then the Chateau !"
If these people had recognized me, they would
probably have made an end of me then and there, as
they did of several of my agents when Rochefort was
arrested. Returning to the Prefecture, I took measures
corresponding to the attitude of the crowd and the
magnitude of the situation. The article in the Mar-
seillaise announcing the death of Victor Noir was
a call to insurrection. A Liberal deputy rushed to the
Legislative Chamber and demanded "justice for the
death of a child of the people." The next morning all
the "hundreds" of Belleville, the Faubourg Saint-
Antoine, and the rue du Temple rose as one man.
Each centurion led his company, all " avengers of the
child of the people," to Neuilly, where the body of
Victor Noir had been carried.
Happily for the Empire, a communication from
Blanqui was circulated among the centurions the night
before the funeral. It said :
" Beware of foreign agents and spies."
This notice destroyed the unity of action which had
grouped together the " sections " of Paris, London, and
the Central Committee of the Place de la Corderie.
Meantime the Chateau was taking the most energetic
measures. We were ordered to line the roads to Neuilly
with police agents in civilian clothes and uniforms.
The army was brought in from Versailles, the troops
camping on the Champs de Mars. Cannon protected
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 255
the Chamber where a Minister of the Empire drawn
from the ranks of the Liberals said to the Opposition ;
" We are moderation itself, but, if need be, we shall
On the evening of Victor Noir's burial, the Chamber
was protected, inside and out, by a regiment of the volti-
geurs of the guard, with sentinels posted on the Pont de
la Concorde. A squadron of police guarded the head of
the bridge. At five o'clock, the vanguard of the revo-
lutionary people, returning from the funeral to invade
the Chamber, encountered this squadron, behind which
pawed the horses of the guard, while through the bay-
onets could be seen the cannon, ready to pour shells
among the populace bent on " avenging its child."
Confronted with this spectacle the vanguard dis-
banded. The revolution did not take place that day.
But from that day revolutionary Paris " felt its elbows,"
marching together in close ranks. The Empire held by
a thread, — a thread which it broke itself, when, to
escape revolution, it declared war, only to fall by inva-
At the time of the murder, Prince Pierre Bonaparte,
who had been ill, was convalescent. Given the cold
shoulder at the Chateau since making a plebeian mar-
riage, he was almost proscribed by his august family.
This son of Lucien, after leading throughout the world
a life of adventure — carbonaro in Italy, trapper in the
wild West, playing as readily with dagger and revolver as
he did on his guitar, — he had ended, now that he was
reaching old age, in a life of absolute retirement. He
256 MEMOIRS OF
desired only to live forgotten at Auteuil, where he de-
voted himself to works of literature and science.
It was not his wish to enter the political struggle,
but the Corsican newspapers of the Opposition pursued
him into the peaceful retreat he had chosen like his
father Lucien. It was not his fault if an ambitious Cor-
sican forced him to reenter the lists by attacking his
name and family. Then it was that Victor Noir, an
enfant terrible, was made to take part in the affair,
and as ill luck would have it, the most honest of the
Bonapartes committed a criminal act against a Parisian
gamin, who saw in the affair nothing but a fine chance
to carry a real challenge to a prince.
Victor Noir belonged to the battalion of young demo-
cratic journalists under the orders of the most influen-
tial of its members. He began as a political reporter.
No one seeing that tall, strong fellow, with a baby face,
rosy as a doll, with smiling, sensual lips, saucy nose,
cheeks like a pippin apple, and little Chinese eyes, from
which darted a lively, roguish glance — no one, I say,
seeing that round, young head on its good-natured, giant
body, would have supposed him to be the writer of those
terrible Nouvelles a la main, which were far more dis-
agreeable to the authorities than a riot in the streets.
When his superiors singled him out to go to Auteuil
with Ulrich de Fonvielle, he exclaimed, with his gamin
"I, Victor Noir, second in a duel with a prince!
That 's chic enough, is n't it ? "
And before getting into the coach to go to Auteuil,
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 257
he walked up the Boulevard Montmartre, saying, in
the Cafe de Madrid and the Cafe de Suede :
"I am ordered to carry a challenge from Grousset
to a Bonaparte. I, who am just on the eve of being
married. Have n't I luck ? Why, it is like having two
weddings ! "
And this great child, the joy of the boulevards in his
long ulster, his immense grey hat with its broad brim
and its hairy surface, appeared that morning dressed as
a "gentleman" of the highest style in order worthily to
represent his chief when demanding from Prince Pierre
the reparation of a duel.
The affair will always remain a mystery. The police
could only unveil, imperfectly, a portion of it. True is
it that under the Empire we were forever made to walk
I leave to the reader the task of disengaging the
truth from the report of Fonvielle and the report of
Mme. X . Both reports, in my opinion, are partisan.
But it may be said that in this fatal affair between
a young reporter, who did not know the Prince any
more than the Prince knew him, if there was no trap
laid, there was, at any rate, the hand of destiny.
I HAVE not the presumption, humble chief of
police that I am, to write the history of the late
reign. But, while keeping to my own sphere, I
wish to relate that which I have seen, learned, and
heard during my long career. I owe to my readers the
numerous notes that I made, or gathered, as much on
the steps of the throne as in the lowest purlieus of
society. The conversation I am about to relate cannot
be called in question, because it was given out, after
the death of Napoleon III, by him who had the honour
to share it.
Ten days before the declaration of war with Prussia,
the Emperor was at Saint-Cloud, talking tete-a-tete
with a Councillor of State, an old friend whom he had
known at Ham, one of the most faithful supporters of
It was ten o'clock in the morning. Though the
month was July, the Emperor, who suffered from nerv-
ous chills — spasms occasioned by his incurable malady
— had a fire in the room. He thanked the Councillor
for sending him one of his works concerning the history
of his reign. Seated beside the fire, his face impassible,
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 259
the eternal cigarette between his lips, he listened to this
confidant of the prosperous and authoritative days of
his reign. The latter held, as nearly as possible, this
"What I notice in the new era of the Empire and
the parliamentary regime is the hesitation, the confu-
sion it impresses on the direction of affairs. The public
mind, pleased, as Your Majesty says, with the return to
liberalism, is nevertheless perplexed and disconcerted
by the Emperor's apparent abandonment of the direction
of the government. The helm seems left to itself, or
abandoned to incompetent pilots who let the ship float
at random. All is in deplorable confusion. The public
knows what the Opposition wants, but it no longer
knows what your policy wants, while that policy, never-
theless, seems to express the same ideas as the Opposi-
"You are right," replied the Emperor; "that is pre-
cisely the situation in which France finds herself now
that the Opposition persists in hampering the advance
of progress such as I had dreamed for her."
" If that is so, Majesty, change your ministry."
" But it is not going badly at the present moment!"
cried the Emperor, smiling.
"Just so," replied the Councillor of State; "because
it is delivering you over to the power of the ' faithless
" But Government," retorted the Emperor, designedly
stirring up his Councillor, "ought not to be exclusive;
it ought not to repulse those who approach it."
260 MEMOIRS OF
" True," said the Councillor, " there again I recognize
imperial magnanimity, which welcomes all who want
to serve it, no matter from what side they come."
" Unfortunately," said the Emperor, " they come only
from the side of my enemies. For instance, in my own
headquarters how many Bonapartists can you find me ?
Look for them even among those who formerly served
me well. Saint-Arnaud and Morny were Orleanists;
King Jerome belongs to anybody; my cousin remains
a Jacobin ; the Empress is a Catholic. I don't see any
one but Persigny, my faithful Persigny, who is a Bona-
partist — and he is an imbecile ! "
" At least, Majesty," answered the Councillor, purs-
ing his lips, " those you name are, or were, good serv-
ants who were not discouraged, who were not forced
out by this introduction of liberals. To-day, you not
only discourage your most devoted servants by giving
them over to the Opposition, but you are teaching
France that the only way to success is through an
Opposition that is weakening the Empire."
" It is not my fault," replied the Emperor, lowering
his head in a dreamy way, " if men are lacking." Then,
looking up at his Councillor, he added : " Assur-
edly, if I had more advisers like you, my dear friend,
the situation would not be so bad ; you are the wood
of which. senators should be made."
" I am deeply grateful to Your Majesty for your
good will to me," replied the Councillor, who was anx-
ious to get round to the object of his visit, namely,
to discuss with the Emperor the subject of the war of
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 261
which the latter had been dreaming since his last plebi-
scite ; " but it was not to talk senate, or even politics,
that I asked for the honour of an interview. It was for
a far more serious and confidential question."
" What is it ? " cried the Emperor, who sus-
pected what this friend of his early years was about to
" I wish," he replied, " to speak of the King of
Prussia, whose arrogant ambition seems to me intoler-
able. I have tried to develop my thoughts in a pam-
phlet, which I have so far kept secret from every
one except Your Majesty and Marshal Lebceuf. Until
now Your Majesty has always said to me: 'Wait!' —
I have waited. I now come again to take the opinion
of my sovereign."
The Emperor had granted this secret audience for
the very purpose of putting his confidant on this topic;
he therefore hastened to say:
" I know that Prussia is a most implacable enemy to
France. I am as sure of it as you are. But to declare war
we must have a twenty-fold good reason ; our moral
power depends on that."
" Ah, sire ! " exclaimed the Councillor, "you have had
a two hundred-fold reason since 1866, and occasion will
not be wanting to supply you with a serious grievance.
Prussia is not sparing of them."
" Would you dare publish what you say if I gave
you permission and if your publisher would keep the
secret of your authorship ? "
" There is my publication," said the Councillor of
262 MEMOIRS OF
State, drawing a pamphlet from his pocket. " It is not
yet deposited at the Ministry of the Interior."
This pamphlet which Napoleon took from the Coun-
cillor's hand was entitled : " Prussia and the Rhine."
" You want the Rhine ? " said Napoleon, after turn-
ing over the leaves for a time with a pensive air.
" Yes, sire, with ardour ! It is our natural, our neces-
sary frontier. It is the indispensable consecration of the
glory of France, and the glory of your own reign."
" Yes, yes," said Napoleon, shaking his head ; " but
it must be done, not talked about."
" For you, sire, that reserve is obligatory ; but for us
it is a duty to tell this truth. I believe I serve my
country best by pointing out, as I do here " (motioning
to the pamphlet)," the object that France ought logically
The Councillor waited till the Emperor had read
through the pamphlet, afterwards so famous. Then he
took his leave. The Emperor pressed his hand affec-
tionately, uttering thus the words he dared not say,
because the walls of even Saint-Cloud had ears. They
had them that day so effectively that a servant of the
Emperor's household took down the interview and
consigned his report to a henchman of the Prussian
Chancellerie. That it never reached Berlin was due to
the fact that the messenger was killed at Ville d'Avray,
and the papers were found on his body.
Ten days after this interview war was declared. The
declaration, coming when it did, took the King of
Prussia, Bismarck, and Moltke by surprise, although
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 263
they had so long done all in their power to provoke it.
Was the affront offered to the French Ambassador at
Ems imaginary? Did M. Benedetti receive, yes or no,
that box on his ear ? This the Opposition was never
able to fathom. No matter, it served its purpose; an
insult offered to French honour roused the nation.
The Emperor knew well that war was the last means
that remained to him of escaping revolution ; also it
would enable him to take vengeance on Prussia, which
had spared him no affront since 1866. He attained his
aim for the time being. By declaring war, he circum-
vented the revolutionaries, already on the way to the
Tuileries to dislodge him ; he roused all France, which,
forgetting Sadowa and Bismarck, now thought only of
the insult offered at Ems to her ambassador ! France
is always chivalrous. Napoleon worked upon her no-
blest sentiments to rouse the nation and save his falling
As for me, it was not without deep sadness that
I saw how, on the declaration of war, my chiefs, in
accord with the Government agents, understood and
promoted the warlike demonstrations of the population
" To Berlin ! To Berlin ! " shouted squadrons of
my own agents, goading on a populace whose leaders
had often been arrested and haled to prison by those
very agents. Did I not see my special man, Bagasse,
with a tricolour cockade on his hat, singing chorus in
the faubourgs to the riff-raff ! Did I not meet Mme.
X , in a tricolour gown, promenading the boulevards
264 MEMOIRS OF
crying out with girls from the Cafe de Madrid : " On
to Berlin ! To Berlin ! "
The newspapers of the Palais-Royal, of which Emile
de Girardin was the great prophet, never ceased to
shout : " Confidence ! confidence ! "
The populace, trusting to writers of military plays
for the circus, still believed France invincible. Always
crazily patriotic, as light-minded as they are generous,
they sincerely pitied those " louts of Prussians," who
were about to be devoured by our army.
When certain members of the Opposition, whose
remonstrances had been choked off in the Chamber,
organized, in the Latin quarter, a demonstration in
favour of peace, orders were issued from the Prefecture
to disperse that " anarchical and anti-French cohort."
I met those men six months later. They formed, after
our disasters, new battalions of the army improvised for
the national defence. They held the sword of stricken
France, those honoured martyrs whom the Empire could
As for me, who saw very close this despicable comedy,
I was determined not to be mixed up in a machination
started by the Ministers and worked up by the agents
of the new plebiscite. I asked the Ministry to send me
in charge of the Emperor's baggage-train to Metz. As
the police were expected to play a certain role in the
war, my request was warmly granted.
The Emperor and the Prince Imperial left Paris on
the morning of July 29, 1870, in a special train com-
posed of several state carriages and numerous cars
Mil. PRINCE [MPERIAL
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 265
loaded with the imperial baggage. The Emperor wore
the uniform of a general of division ; the Prince Impe-
rial that of a sub-lieutenant.
I was, as I have said, a part of that military pageant,
charged with watching over the preservation and secur-
ity of the imperial train. I had brought with me, under
orders from the Prefecture, my best, tried men, all old
soldiers, who, while acting as police in camp, would re-
member their past calling and take arms when neces-
sary. There were over a score of them, among whom
I shall here name Bagasse, the Requin [the Shark],
and CEil de Lynx [Lynx-Eye].
I saw the Emperor and his son very closely as they
got into their carriage, and started for a war full of the
most terrible vicissitudes recorded in history. The lad
was gay, careless, almost joyous, as children of that age
are wont to be. The old man was taciturn and dreamy.
When the steam-whistle sounded and the vapour puffed
into the air, I saw his impassible face contract as if the
sinister chuckle of that vapour had irritated his nerves.
What thought he as that train started ? Did he think
that he was going to disaster ? that he was taking his
son to exile — that boy so unconscious of danger, who,
during his shart life, was to know nothing of war but
defeat, of grandeur but the heroism of death !
Napoleon II died to expiate the ambition of Napo-
leon I ; Napoleon IV died to expiate the ambition, the
ill-omened ambition, of Napoleon III. And these two
children succumbed to fate in exile on foreign soil
where their fathers left them !
266 MEMOIRS OF
Those who were near the Emperor as the imperial
train drew out of Paris remembered afterwards the
fixed look that he laid on the city from which he was
The Empress on the previous evening had taken her
son to the Invalides to kneel before the tomb of the
victor of Jena. As mother and son left the building
the military band played as they passed the Chant du
Depart. One of my agents mingling in the crowd
heard a soldier murmur to himself :
" The Chant du D'epart — it is the swan's song ! "
The soldiers themselves, who at this time joined their
regiments and marched to the Eastern Railway station,
seemed to have a consciousness of disaster. They were
gloomy. Their officers shared their sadness as soon as
they were no longer intoxicated by the enthusiasm of
the boulevards, w r here police and populace were still
shouting : " To Berlin ! To Berlin ! "
When we reached Metz, the blind confidence the
Emperor had placed in Marshal Leboeuf melted away
before the crushing reality. France, which was entering
this war with light heart and heedless mind, had neither
soldiers nor officers ready for it. Instead of 500,000
men, she could muster only 250,000, because the mili-
tary funds had been squandered ; because ministers
and sovereigns had gone to the bottom of the army
appropriation ; because, since Sadowa, military France,
ruined by the speculation of the Mexican war, had
only a weak army to fight against a million of Prussian
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 267
I saw that army closely while I was with the Em-
peror's headquarters. All the commanders of corps,
without concerning themselves about the unity of
military operations, thought only of turning, each to
his own profit, some partial victory, that he might, in-
dividually, have the honours of war. They were jealous
of one another. Alas ! they need not have quarrelled in
advance about the credit of victory, for they were all
going straight to Sedan ! They themselves helped on
that result, for most of our generals went to the frontier
as if they were going to a review at Longchamps, or to
a camp at Saint-Maur.
At Metz we all saw that which, at last, reached the
mind of the Emperor, as it had been all along in the
wise judgement of men like M. Thiers, but which,
apparently, had never entered the specialist brain of an
artilleryman like Marshal Lebceuf.
We thought ourselves ready, and we were not ! No
organization, no plan, no resources, disorder every-
where ; waste and carelessness everywhere. Confusion
reigned in all branches of the administration ; officers
went about in search of their regiments ; the men of
the reserve, trying to join their missing corps, made,
as one might say, the tour of France before reaching
Marshal McMahon, returning suddenly from Africa
into the midst of this confusion, cried out in despair :
" We are lost ! "
Napoleon was terrified. His impassibility was shaken
in presence of the awful spectacle which foretold the
268 MEMOIRS OF
ruin of the Empire and the condemnation of his own
I and my men were so placed in the front ranks
that we could see behind the scenes of this theatre of
war. I can say with certainty that Napoleon, at the
sight of this grievous scene, was seized several times
with a species of vertigo; he would stand for an instant
as if stupefied, his eyes fixed, his mouth dumb because
its paralyzed tongue could make no sound. He was
seen to weep ! The generals around him were forced
to take him out of sight that the army might not see
that he was weeping !
During this time I was receiving letters from Paris.
The absolute confidence of the Parisians saddened me
still more. The newspapers were saying:
" Why are they waiting ? What are they doing ? Will
our victorious armies be ready for the fetes in August?"
What they were doing, / saw. They were organ-
izing on the spot, at the last instant. The confusion
was so great that one regiment went off without a sur-
geon, which made a medical officer in Metz say : " The
wounded will have to blow out their brains."
It is not for me to speak of the war in its details ;
I have to relate only what is personal to myself, what
I saw, and what came within the scope of my duties.
After the defeat at Forbach, where the French sol-
diers fought like lions led by officers who, to use the
term applied to them by the Prussians, were asses, it
became necessary to beat our first retreat. My mission
as a military policeman now began. The frontier of
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 269
France lay open to the enemy. Not a mile of that
ground, not a town nor a village nor a hamlet was un-
known to German soldiers who for ten years past had
surveyed and mapped the region, and who now returned
in uniforms to the places where they had lived and
dressed as peasants.
The night after the bloody advantage obtained by
the Prussians at Wissembourg, I was ordered, I and
my agents in charge of the imperial train, to withdraw
with the baggage-cars of His Majesty towards Metz.
Before relating the incidents of this retreat, I wish to say
a few words on this war in Alsace, which, to my think-
ing, had been morally won by Prussia in the interval
since 1866. I have already given, in two criminal cases,
facts which prove the truth of my assertion, namely,
that if the Prussians entered Alsace in 1870 with ease,
and as if it were their own region, they owed it to a
plan long laid, like the war itself, which was to be the
crowning work of the chancellor — Bismarck.
I have, moreover, the proof of this in a letter from
a general, who, in 1866, warned General Trochu of the
mole-work going on in that region. Here follows an
extract from that letter addressed to General Trochu
by the general then commanding at Strasbourg. [It is
written as friend to friend, and uses the tutoientent^\
This letter was furnished to me from the cabinet noir :
" As you are in the way to tell sound truth to the
illustrious personages who surround you, tell them
this: While we are pompously and lengthily deliber-
ating on how to make ourselves an army, Prussia is
270 MEMOIRS OF
very actively preparing to invade our territory. She will
be ready to put 600,000 men and 1200 cannon in the
field before we have even thought of organizing the in-
dispensable cadres for an army of 300,000 and 600 can-
non. On the other side of the Rhine there is not a
German who does not believe in war in the near future.
The most pacific (those who through their connections
are most French) consider war inevitable, and cannot
understand our inaction.
"As a cause must be found for everything, they say
that the Emperor has fallen into second childhood.
Short of being blind, it is impossible not to see that
war must break out in a very short time.
"With our stupid vanity, our crazy presumption,
we believe that we can choose our own day and hour
for completing our organization and our armament ! In
fact, my dear Trochu, I am of your opinion, and I am
beginning to think that our Government is struck with
lunacy. If Jupiter has decided to destroy it, don't let us
forget, you and me, that the destinies of the country are
bound up with ours, and, if we are not yet struck with
that fatal lunacy, we ought to exert all our efforts to
stop the downward trend which is leading straight to
" Here is a new detail to which I call your attention,
because it is of a nature to open the eyes of the least
" For some time past numerous Prussian agents roam
about our frontier departments, especially the region
between the Moselle and the Vosges. They sound the
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 271
minds of the population, they act upon the Protestants,
who are numerous in those parts and are much less
French than is usually supposed.
" This part of the population remains what it was in
181 5, when it sent deputations to the enemy's head-
quarters, asking that Alsace be returned to the ' German
fatherland.' It is well to note this fact; for it may
justly be considered to throw light on the plans and
the campaign of the enemy . . ."
Well, that letter, written confidentially by the Com-
mandant of Strasbourg at the period of the Paris
Exposition of 1866, when Prussia was busy at her work
of espionage from the banks of the Rhine to those of
the Seine, that letter, known to the Emperor and the
Government because it was sent to the cabinet noir, was
not taken as a warning by the illustrious personages of
To return now to the disastrous campaign of 1870.
From the beginning of the retreat, after Wissem-
bourg and Forbach, all was for me, as for others, an
uninterrupted series of alarms and perils. I, with my
agents, was constantly on the railroad, retreating from
station to station for the safety of His Majesty's baggage.
The enemy advanced, day by day ; every place we left
was at once filled by an army of German engineers,
seizing each station and putting up the telegraph poles
of our lines, now become Prussian lines. Each French
train that had not had time to escape fell a prey to the
I had noticed, at the beginning of the campaign,
272 MEMOIRS OF
a soldier on the imperial train belonging to the escort.
He was an Alsatian, the sly expression of whose crafty
face told me nothing good of him. Though he was very
zealous, very quick in executing all orders that I re-
ceived from the staff, I distrusted him. When I spoke
of my doubts to a high officer very close to the Em-
peror, he assured me I was quite mistaken in distrust-
ing the man. who had been attached for ten years to the
palace of Saint-Cloud and had proved himself a most
honest and faithful servant of the imperial family.
In spite of this assurance, I continued to watch the
man, and after the defeat at Wissembourg I changed
the guard of the train, confiding it wholly to Bagasse
and his police squad. Whether from vexation at this
removal, or treachery, the faithful Alsatian disappeared
after the defeat at Wissembourg, much to the surprise
of those who had known him at Saint-Cloud.
After Wissembourg, as I have said, our generals could
not hesitate ; the frontier must be abandoned in order,
as they called it, to " concentrate." By direction of the
Emperor's staff, I ordered the engineer of the train to
get up steam to save His Majesty's baggage, the enemy
advancing upon us with giant strides.
The train consisted of thirty cars containing state
carriages (intended for the entry into Berlin), beds, bed-
ding, china, glass, furniture, draperies, and a great variety
of other articles personal to His Majesty, including his
cash-box. My one thought was to save that box. It
must be saved at the peril of my life. That Alsatian
servant knew of it, and I felt persuaded that before
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 273
reaching Metz our train would meet with some obstruc-
tion from the enemy.
Never shall I forget that sad and hopeless evening.
All along the banks of the railroad lay the bodies cf
turcos and zouaves, dead and wounded together. Blood
was soaking the roadway, cut up by balls and shells.
When I gave the order to start, our army was quitting its
position, leaving the dead and wounded in the station !
The whistle of the engine had scarcely sounded, the
train was just beginning to get in motion, when a band
of Uhlans galloped into the station. Their leader, at the
risk of his life, rode straight to the head of the train and
ordered the engineer to stop. Then he turned and called
me by name.
He was the old and faithful servant of Saint-Cloud !
After his soldiers had surrounded the train, he came to
me and said with a courteous air, offering to take my
hand, which I refused to him :
"Monsieur Claude, surrender; you are my prisoner.
You are on German territory, and this train is ours.
Surrender willingly if you do not wish to share the fate
I was surrounded — surprised — captured! and by
a German who had lived on the favours and benefits of
France ! We were taken, a party of resolute men, before
we had fought ! All around us lay the dead and dying,
and we — healthy, living — must we surrender to these
heavy Germans without imitating those martyrs, with-
out at least attempting to fight for our country?
But the Uhlan leader had scarcely ceased speaking
274 MEMOIRS OF
when a shot was fired. It came from the railway bank
where lay a wounded zouave. That hero, before dying,
spent his last ball on the Prussian as if to show us our
duty ! He had aimed so well that the bullet struck the
Uhlan leader full in the breast. As he fell, the old,
wounded zouave cried out from the bank :
" Make haste ! save yourselves ! you are ten minutes
ahead of the Germans."
" Vive la France ! fire ! " cried Bagasse to his com-
rades, and instantly volleys were exchanged between
my men and the Uhlans. The latter attempted to board
the train, but most of them fell on the rails, wounded
by the rain of balls that poured from every compart-
The engineer had understood Bagasse. He obeyed
the shout of the old zouave by putting on all steam.
The engine jostled, crushed, buffeted, and rammed
down men and horses, while those who clung to the
sides of the cars, fell back, struck by balls, wounded by
bayonets, and were crushed by the wheels.
It was a horrible sight ! But the train went swiftly
When I had recovered from the keen emotion caused
by these horrors, I said to Bagasse, who was stroking
the still hot barrel of his gun :
" Well, we played a big game ! "
" And won, Monsieur Claude ; that 's the principal
thing," replied Bagasse, twirling his moustache.
" That is to say," I remarked, " we have won the first
game, but the enemy is close at our heels."
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 275
" Pooh ! " cried Bagasse, " we won't let him surprise
I did not share his blind confidence. I was convinced
that the enemy would not let go a prize of which they
knew the value through their spy. I had but a score
of men with me, very resolute men, to be sure, and
a million was well worth risking another hecatomb.
My eyes ached, as we went along, with the strain of
gazing at the horizon, and with watching each roll
of the ground. In every wood, every forest, I fancied
I could see the tip of a lance or the muzzle of a musket.
Once at the little way-station of Panche, where we
had to wait twenty minutes while they watered and fed
the engine, I walked along the track for a little dis-
tance, taking Lynx-Eye with me. The road, running
between sandy fields, was bordered by gorse, low shrubs,
and ferns. Lynx-Eye crept along like a wild animal at
a little distance from me studying the ground. Sud-
denly he made me a sign. Creeping towards him, he
showed me on an old road near a little wood branches
of trees fastened together in the form of a cross. It
was evidently a signal.
Since our fight on the rails, and thanks to the rapid-
ity of our train, no enemy had overtaken or preceded
us. Evidently persons stationed along the road were
signalling our passage to the Prussians behind us.
Lynx-Eye left me in no doubt of this. Forcing me not
to raise my head above the level of a little hedge, he
showed me, among a group of trees, a man, a Prussian,
standing motionless as a statue with his eyes fixed on
276 MEMOIRS OF
the railroad track where the long line of the imperial
baggage- train was waiting.
The sentinel suddenly turned. Laying down his
gun he took up a stick on which was fastened a hand-
kerchief and looked in the opposite direction, as if
prepared to make some signal. Quick as lightning,
agile as a panther, subtle as a snake, Lynx-Eye sprang
upon him with his sabre-bayonet. With a sure hand
he drove the weapon in between the shoulders before
the man could turn or give a cry. He fell dead among
Taking the Prussian's gun Lynx-Eye returned to
me, throwing down as he came the branches arranged
as a cross.
"Now, Monsieur Claude," he said, "let us go on.
The Prussian army may come, but its sentinel has
deserted ; he has taken a passport to another country."
The joyous air of my agent wrung my heart. Hatred
of crime may have made me from duty and from
temperament inexorable to hardened sinners ; but this
Prussian soldier might have been the worthy father of
a family. Of what was he guilty? Of doing his duty!
Ah! war is a terrible thing! Men degenerate on both
sides into savages and cannibals !
I was not delivered from these thoughts till our train
rolled into Metz.
The Emperor, who had not waited for his baggage,
had already returned to Metz. He now ordered me to
be complimented on the "skilful and heroic" manner in
which I had saved his property. When all the details
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 277
of the odyssey of my little troop became known, it
actually seemed as if some of the officers would make
me an ovation and carry me in triumph! For having
saved the money-box and furniture of Napoleon III
they made as much of a chief of police as they could
have made of a marshal of the army who had saved
France! Sad symptom of decadence!
It was now the 14th of August. The Emperor, after
receiving old General Changarnier, who came rather
late to offer his services, decided to leave Metz and
return to Chalons. He was followed by his baggage-
train, still under my care.
But I had had enough of this campaign in which I
had seen nothing but frightful disasters. I was heart-
sick at the sight of our poor soldiers, filling the stations,
obstructing the roads — tattered turcos, maimed and
crippled cuirassiers dragging their great twisted sabres,
giants overthrown by numbers ! Napoleon, with his
baggage, followed these fugitives, abandoning Metz
when the fighting was about to begin. He had nearly
reached Verdun, when a shell coming from a Prussian
battery hidden in a wood saluted him with its explo-
sion. I was there again to save his baggage, though
this time I had not my escort of soldier-policemen.
Taken in flank, pressed closer and closer by the
enemy, Napoleon III ended at Verdun by throwing
himself into a third-class carriage in which he reached
Chalons incognito. From there he telegraphed to the
11 1 have no news of McMahon. The reconnoitrings
2 7 S MONSIEUR CLAUDE
on the Sarre show no movement of the enemy. I hear
there has been an engagement on the side of General
Frossard. It is too far for us to go there. As soon as
I receive news, I will send it to you* — Napoleon."
When he wrote those lines, the Emperor was shed-
ding tears of blood. He had quitted Metz because it
was on the point of being invested by the Prussians.
Why then this new lie when all was desperate ?
Because France lives on illusions !
Because the irremediable defeat, if known to French-
men, to Parisians, would have caused the instant loss
of a throne, which the Empress, above all desired
ardently to preserve for her son.
AFTER DEFEAT — THE POLITICAL
I QUITTED the imperial escort at Verdun, whence
the Emperor was fleeing to Chalons, while Bazaine,
face to face with the Prussians, thought less of re-
pulsing them than of shutting himself up in Metz, to
save the last legions of the Empire. My mission was
over. I left the Emperor, resembling a desperate and
feverish gambler who loses and loses again, still hop-
ing to weary fatality. He left Verdun with one eye on
the frontier of Alsace, now lost to him forever ; the
other on the capital he could scarcely hope to see
again. He had sent his son by way of Mezieres.
Travelling alone from Metz to Verdun, from Verdun
to Chalons the Emperor still commanded. He com-
manded at Metz by Bazaine, who saved his last troops;
he commanded in Paris by the Comte de Palikao, who,
after our disasters, was far more concerned in defending
himself against the Parisians than in defending France
against the Prussians.
I left at Verdun the escort of my agents, all old sol-
diers who had resumed their muskets and now did
not quit headquarters ; some to work, if possible, for
2So MEMOIRS OF
the junction of Bazaine's army with the new army
under McMahon ; others to continue to defend the
baggage-train of His Majesty, which bore in truth the
whole of Caesar's fortune. The leaders of the latter,
Bagasse and the Requin, were to keep me informed,
almost daily, of all that happened.
My mission was ended. I had only to return to Paris
and resume my administrative functions in the service
of a dying government which it was my duty to serve
so long as it existed among its ruins. I left Verdun for
Paris, accompanied by Lynx-Eye, who, less of a soldier
than Bagasse and the Requin, was far more valuable
to me at the Prefecture than he could have been on a
On the road from Verdun we found, all the way,
a stream of wretched soldiers, crippled, wounded, beg-
ging, who were making, without orders, without leaders,
a further retreat to Chalons. Never was any unexpected
defeat followed by such confusion and total want of
discipline. Our soldiers, broken down by fatigue even
more than by defeat, without rations, abandoned by
their officers, had nought but bitterness in their hearts
and curses on their lips. They robbed to live. Their
behaviour was such that the population, terrified, fled
at their approach. When we arrived, Lynx-Eye and I, at
the gates of Chalons, we were stopped by two soldiers
who demanded our money or our lives !
Yet at that very moment the Prefect of Verdun
was telegraphing to the Minister of the Interior in
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 281
"We heard yesterday (August 16) the growling of
cannon between Metz and Verdun. Persons arriving
from that direction say that a great battle began at day-
break, also that the Prussians lost over 40,000 men in
the battle of the previous evening. They fought to the
very environs of Verdun, and the enemy has been seen
making his retreat to the southward."
The Minister of War on his side made known this
news to the Chamber, adding the following hardly less
comforting information :
" It is not, properly speaking, a defeat which the
Prussian army has met with before Metz, but a con-
siderable check, I have not the official dispatches, and
I cannot therefore enter into details ; I can only say
that the enemy has met with successive checks, and that
they are retreating upon Commercy."
Was it permissible thus to abuse the credulity of
France when at any moment the truth, the horrible,
heart-breaking truth, might become known ? To put
to sleep still further the quivering, anxious, breathless
population, the same Minister murmured in the corri-
dor of the Chamber of Deputies in a way to be over-
heard by his most dangerous opponents :
" Ah ! if all were known that / know, Paris would be
illuminated ! "
The Empire was to fall by that on which it had
lived — deception.
When I reentered Paris towards the last of August,
I was frightened at the blind confidence of the Paris-
ians who believed in a turn of fortune that existed
282 MEMOIRS OF
only in the self-interested minds of the supporters of
the Government. I went immediately to the Prefecture
of Police to make my report and render an account of
what I had seen, — seen with my own eyes, — which
agreed not at all with the false dispatches of the Min-
ister of War.
At the Prefecture I found men evidently anxious,
and yet my chiefs would hardly listen to me. They told
me that such news did not concern them, they con-
cerned the Minister of War. I went to the Ministry of
War. I found there as elsewhere the same confusion,
the same disorder, the same anxiety. When I explained
the desperate situation of the army they answered
"If we only had troops to control the people when
Paris knows all ! But we have not ! We have not a
single general here on whom we can depend. General
Trochu is watching us. That is why he came back
from Chalons, by the advice of the Opposition, to watch
the Empress ! "
At the Ministry of War, at the Prefecture of Police,
in all the public offices, they were thinking more of
saving the Empire and themselves than of saving the
country in danger!
I had no sooner resumed my functions than I felt
myself surrounded by a vast void. I received no orders
from my chiefs. Commissaries of police, officers of the
force came to receive instructions which were not given.
For me, as for them, the nearer the final defeat ap-
proached, the more the Prefect was " busy," the head of
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 283
the municipal police "received no one"; the Chief of the
Political Police " could not be disturbed because he was
working day and night with the Prefect."
At what were they working while the Empress-
Regent, coming in from Saint Cloud to the Tuileries,
saw fewer and yet fewer of her servitors around her?
The Prefect of Police and the chiefs of his bureau
were working at burning the papers that were most
compromising for the adherents of the Empire. The
thread of blue vapour that rose from the chimneys of
the Prefecture in those August days told the tale
of their serious and feverish occupations.
According as the level of the imperial power dropped
by degrees in the irritated public mind, so its adversaries
of old date rose higher and higher by several cubits.
Megy, the conspirator of La Villette, was cheered by
the lawyers of the liberal party in the High Court of
Justice when he left Blois to be transferred to the prison
of the Cherchemidi ; Megy, on the eve of being tried
for having attempted to overthrow the Government,
arms in hand, was considered to be a martyr !
Rochefort was serving his sentence without rigour —
a sentence for having, under Blanqui's direction, insti-
gated civil war after the death of Victor Noir. While
awaiting the moment when the gates of his prison
should be opened for him, Rochefort was fraternizing
with the director of the prison at suppers where the
black bread of convicts did not figure ! When my agents
from habit notified me of the way in which the prison
authorities were treating " the politicals," I received
284 MEMOIRS OF
orders to shut my eyes, and let things take their
I own that as for Rochefort, whom I had known in
better days when we both frequented the theatres, he
as a reporter on the Figaro, and I under the mask of
Monsieur Auguste, a retired clerk, I own that I was
glad of the order to shut my eyes as to the way his
amiable gaolers treated him. I had known Rochefort
when he was a jovial, witty jester, and his infernal
situation had troubled me.
Each day, which was in fact one day the less for the
Empire, I felt more and more isolated at the Prefecture.
I foresaw that the moment was coming when the news
of a defeat, however mitigated it might be by passing
through the Tuileries and the Ministry of War, would
lead to the invasion of all the public offices by the
people. I expected it and I was resigned to it.
The one thing that consoled me in the unspeakable
abandonment that surrounded me was the sight of the
flag still waving from the dome of the Tuileries. "At
least," I said to myself, "the Empress is faithful to
France. She is at her post when all the others abandon
theirs ! "
I was under the weight of these reflections when I re-
ceived, at my own house, Avenue Victoria, a note, the
handwriting on which was well known to me. The
note was from M. Thiers. He reminded me in a few
words of the promise I had made him some years
earlier. He warned me that the moment was approach-
ing when I must burn what I had obeyed, and obey,
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 285
for the sake of the country in danger, what I had
burned. I own that the note perplexed me as much as
the very different note I had received twenty years
earlier from the adversaries of my first protector.
If I had been a courtier, like so many other Brutuses
of that day, I should have abandoned Caesar in his
misfortunes on receiving this call. But, I repeat it, I am
not a seeker after favour. The more misfortune was
about to strike a sovereign lady, courageously remaining
in the Tuileries to face the storm that was lowering
upon her, the more I felt ashamed of proposals made
to me by her most implacable enemy.
And yet my first protector addressed me personally
in the name of the country in danger. France had
more claim upon me than an Empress whose dangers
came, after all, from her fault or that of her husband.
Was I to imitate the attitude of the officials I saw
around me ? Or was I to turn to whence the wind blew
that would strike down the master and follow its cur-
rent with damnable ambition ?
In this perplexity I resolved to go and see Mme.
X , whose position, I thought, would be as difficult
as mine. I would get her ideas, though quite deter-
mined not to tell her of the proposals of M. Thiers,
whom she execrated. I would take counsel with her to
enlighten my patriotism ; I would find out if her van-
quished party had risen to the height of its misfortunes,
and whether my duty ought still to chain me to a power
so near to its fall.
I found Mme. X in her house at Auteuil. She
2S6 MEMOIRS OF
was much excited, very busy, very nervous ; when she
saw me, standing among piles of furniture in her
vestibule, she scarcely bowed to me. Accustomed to
read countenances, I saw on hers that my presence
was very inopportune to her; she remembered my
beginnings and how she had always flaired me as an
" Oh ! it is you, is it ? " she said with a haughty air ;
"you here at such a moment ! Politics must leave you
plenty of leisure if you can find time to come out here,
especially when any one who belongs to the Chateau
must be a very dangerous acquaintance for you and
I did not need the end of her sentence to make me
understand her ill humour.
" My dear friend," I said, " it is because I foresee the
dangers which threaten you in the camp to which you
so charitably consign me that I have come to see
you and find a way to avoid them."
" You are very good," she said, taking me into the
salon and deigning to give up attending to her furni-
ture ; " you are very good. But permit me only half to
believe you. You have come, have you not, to make
yourself quite sure of the coming triumph of your
friends ? to make certain that the Empire is, as I told
you six months ago it would be, — fichu, archi-fichu!
Well, be sure of it ! You see I am packing up to go.
I don't intend to await Prussian bayonets, or the return
of your avengers of December — "
" But," I interrupted, for I did not think the Empire
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 287
had quite come to that ; at least not in the minds of its
most ardent supporters ; " but the Empress is still at
the Tuileries ; she is guarded there by General Tro-
"The Empress will depart, just as I do. General
Trochu will go over to his new sovereign, the Repub-
lic — that good wet-nurse for embryo pretenders ! "
" You are in a very bad humour," I said ; " it was not
thus that I knew you in the olden time when we
mutually helped each other."
" Well," she retorted in a milder though still embit-
tered tone, " you don't need my help any longer, as
I shall never belong to the government that is about
to be born. You ought even to forget my friendship,
or it will injure you with Thiers."
" Oh ! " I exclaimed, " how can you misunderstand
me in that way ? "
" I don't blame you," she said ; " I blame no one but
the Emperor. Why did he make war ? He had only
to let himself die tranquilly without going after fimile
Ollivier ! He had only to keep his power, his authority,
without trying to break it, like a child with a plaything
he has played with too long! Ha! he has broken
it — that plaything so splendidly made by Morny,
Espinasse, Billault, and Rouher — broken it just to see
what was inside of it ! Well, he knows now what has
come out of it — Ollivier, war, defeat ; presently it will
be Thiers and revolution ; after Thiers will come Gam-
betta, Rochefort, and — I don't know who ! But after
war, after revolution, the Empire will return to
288 MEMOIRS OF
play its old game with new trump-cards. Then, you
Orleanists, then we'll attend to you ! As for me, good-
bye, I 'm off, awaiting better days."
" Where are you going ? " I said, provoked because
I saw I could not get a sensible word out of her.
" How do I know ? " she answered angrily. " I am
getting out of Paris in the first place because Paris,
whatever happens, left to itself will become a fur-
" But," I said, " you are flying into the face of inva-
sion. The Prussians are advancing from all points along
the frontier. Another defeat and the million of Ger-
mans who now surround the Ardennes will turn Metz
and march on Paris."
" Well, what then ? " she said, giving me a sarcastic
" What then ? Why you will have everything to fear
if you fall into their hands."
" How young you are still ! " she cried, shrugging her
shoulders. " Do you think that danger exists for me ?
If I desert Paris which is deserting us, I am only going
to Ville d'Avray where I possess a property I want to
save from the coming disasters. They say that Prus-
sians only pillage and burn empty houses. They are
said to be very courteous to those who do them the
honours of their house. Now for my own sake and
the interests of others, that 's the course I mean to take,
and I shall take it."
" Do you think that patriotic ? " I asked.
" I don't know anything about that," she retorted-
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 289
" What I do know is that Thiers and his consorts will
be vanquished after the revolution as we are vanquished
"You talk as if the Empire were already in the
" It will be to-morrow! " she exclaimed.
" No, for there is another battle to be fought between
McMahon's army and the Prussians. We are not yet
vanquished ! "
"We are — and you know it!" she cried. "And
when Prussia by a final victory justifies Thiers, who
has never ceased to predict our defeat in the Chamber,
and opens the doors of the Tuileries, you think per-
haps it is you — you Orleanists — who will profit by our
defeat. I tell you no ! no ! "
" Why not ? " I asked.
" Why not ? because we Bonapartists will return."
" On the Prussian gun-carriages ? "
" Don't talk nonsense," she replied. " You know very
well that a nation, whether she wills it or does not will
it, belongs to her conqueror. Well, we Bonapartists,
more conquered by you than by the Prussians, we shall
say what we like to win back the public opinion you
have taken from us. We shall say that if it had not
been for the revolution Europe would have intervened;
we shall say that the legal government issuing twice
from the suffrages of the people was not consulted as
to continuing the war ! Then in presence of the enemy,
who will have become much more yours than ours, we
shall demand an appeal to the people."
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" But," I cried out indignantly, " that will be civil
war in the midst of invasion ! It would be a crime.
Suppose France should succumb?"
" Ha ! my dear man," she cried, pushing me on to the
veranda piled up with furniture ; " you are getting tire-
some, stupid, with your worn-out phrases ! Where do
you come from ? What is it, the France you talk of ?
Does a woman — a woman of my profession — have
a country ? She has a master ; and mine is the Empire
which I serve, loyally, by all the means in my power.
That is why you see me on the point of quitting Paris
— the Empress also. By the way your friends and the
Prussians are driving things, I have scarcely time to
pack my trunks. So, good-bye, my dear Claude, may we
meet again in better days — you will find me then as
ready to serve you as I have been in the past."
I own I was as glad to leave her as she was to be rid
of me. I was horror-struck at the profession of faith of
Mme. X , who, seeing her fortune and that of her
masters crumbling away, suddenly unmasked herself
before me. In spite of her intelligence, her energy, she
appeared to me such as I would fain not have seen her —
as a cynical woman.
My mind was made up. On the day when Paris heard
of the defeat at Sedan, I left the Prefecture; not to
abandon it disguised as a cook like my Prefect, but
to answer the note of M. Thiers. That morning I had
received a letter from Bagasse. It will be remembered
that I had left at Verdun the police escort that accom-
panied the baggage-train of His Majesty. Thanks to
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 291
that escort, I was one of the first in Paris to know of the
rout of our army.
All the officers of the Prefecture were in such disorder
by this time that I was obliged to take upon myself per-
sonally the authority to make the various police posts,
within and without, attend to their functions. My chiefs
no longer attended to anything but their own affairs.
On the eve of the great overthrow, I found myself
almost alone in the office of the Secretary of the Prefect
of Police. I had even to examine the correspondence
in order to keep up between the Prefecture and the
Ministry of the Interior the necessary administrative
relations, which were certainly not within my province.
But on the evening before September 4, no one was
at his post; it is absolutely true that no one had
awaited the downfall.
As the police had played a great role with the army,
I was informed almost daily by Bagasse or my other
agents of what was happening on the Meuse, in the
Ardennes, and even on the banks of the Rhine. I was
as fully informed about the affairs of the war as the
Minister himself. I had no difficulty, alas! in detecting
the lying news with which the Parisians were fooled, in
order to maintain, in the name of their patriotism, the
Empress-Regent in the Tuileries. I was thus the first
to hear of the disaster of Sedan from Bagasse and the
Rcquin, who had not ceased to accompany the Emperor
from Metz to Verdun (where I left them) and from
Verdun to Sedan.
When Bagasse and the escort started from Verdun
292 MEMOIRS OF
with the state-carriages, the household suite, the steno-
graphers, the cooks, the kitchen utensils, etc., of His
Majesty, they went through dangers quite as serious
as those I had shared with them after Forbach. This
time it was not only against the enemy that my men
had to take precautions ; they were needed against
Frenchmen. Seeing the imperial train about to start
with the fleeing sovereign, some of the soldiers who
had fought at Wissembourg, heeding only their rage
and their despair, aimed their rifles at the Emperor.
Bagasse wrote me as follows :
" If an officer who was on the train had not sprung
off with his breast against the muzzles that were aimed
at the Emperor, it would have been all up with him.
4 Soldiers!' cried the officer; 'you are unhappy men,
but do not be murderers.' "
Three days later than this letter from Bagasse I re-
ceived another from him, dated Sedan. It announced
a new retreat of the army. It also informed me that
the fifty cars of His Majesty's baggage-train had been
brought into Sedan without much damage, but that
the army had met a different fate. His next letter
announced the capitulation and the capture of him who
was henceforth no longer an emperor.
I confess that when I thus learned, with many of its
details, this frightful catastrophe, I had a species of
vertigo. Nevertheless, the solitude and isolation in
which my chiefs at the Prefecture had left me showed
me clearly my duty. In this supreme hour, which
sounded the death-knell of the imperial dynasty, France
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 293
could not be kept on the second line. I knew too well
the just grievances of the Opposition, the patriotism
of the Parisian population, not to put myself defin-
itively on the side of the outraged nation. I decided
then to go and see M. Thiers.
I remember, as if it were yesterday, the short inter-
view that I had with the old politician when I went
to him at the moment I had received news of our
great disaster. Had he heard of it ? I did not know.
But the extreme agitation in which I found him, the
leader of the Opposition, made me suppose that he
had heard it.
I entered the house in the rue Saint-Georges, the
broken windows of which, broken by the "patriotic
manifestation " of the friends of the Empire against the
adversaries of the war, were scarcely mended. I had
no sooner sent in my name than M Thiers, his face
pale, his features convulsed, came eagerly to me and
took me into his private room
" My dear Claude," he said in a clear, vibrant, yet
shaking voice, " I wrote to you under the expectation
of grave events which might put the country in danger.
To-day, since I wrote to you, events so terrible have
happened that I seem to have lost my head. We have
a session of the Chamber to-night. I don't know what
will take place ; I dare not even think about it. As we
have long known you — as I know above all your patri-
otism, your loyalty — I wished — I wish still, to ask you
whether, in the horrible catastrophe before us, you will
be on the side of the Emperor or on the side of France ? "
294 MEMOIRS OF
" My answer," I said solemnly, " is given, Monsieur
Theirs, by the fact that you see me here."
" Thank you ! " he said, pressing my hand warmly;
" you are a good Frenchman."
" And now," I said, " what am I to do ? "
" Remain at your post and await events."
" But," I objected, " suppose the revolution turns me
out ? "
" It will not turn you out."
" Suppose my present chiefs compel me once more
to act against you ? "
"Your chiefs will not dare to give you an order
against me; I'll answer for that — if indeed you have
those same chiefs to-morrow ! "
" Then what will be my situation ? "
" That of waiting for your new Prefect."
" Then," I cried out in surprise, " then you know all,
Monsieur Thiers ? w
" All ! " he answered, waving his arm with a gesture
of despair, and wiping under his spectacles the tears
that rolled from his eyes, while his voice could not
restrain a sob. " All — alas ! "
The diplomatist had disappeared: I saw only the
patriot, shaken, agitated before the sorrows of his
" Go! " he said, pushing me hastily by the shoulders;
" au revoir, my poor friend ; I count on you to keep
order in Paris, while those who have ruined the country
abandon it on the brink of the abyss to which they have
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 295
This interview between M. Thiers and me took place
on the evening of the 3d of September, when the Minis-
ter of War, after the news of the capture of Napoleon
III had been transmitted to him by the Empress, had
just convoked the Chamber to tell it that the army had
capitulated, and that the Emperor was a prisoner.
We all know what happened on the announcement
of that terrible news. Jules Favre answered the Minis-
ter, the Comte de Palikao, by declaring:
" Louis Napoleon Bonaparte and his dynasty are
deprived of the powers conferred on them by the
Jules Favre ended by saying slowly to the friends
of the Empire, who listened to him as condemned men
listen to their death-sentence :
" To-morrow — or rather to-day, Sunday, at midday,
we shall have the honour to state publicly the impera-
tive, the absolute reason which commands all patriots
to adopt that declaration."
When I left M. Thiers that evening and walked
through the streets, I perceived that Paris, long secretly
worked upon by the permanent leaders of revolution,
was already in possession of the dreadful news. An
enormous crowd was circulating along the line of the
boulevards, whispering at each corner. Manifestations
of sorrow were universal, coupled with deep, growling
anger. It seemed to me then, just as it did in 1848, and
in the days of June, that the people were waiting for
the word of command, which the leaders of the revolu-
tion dared not give as yet while the country mourned.
296 MEMOIRS OF
I heard, in all the groups, voices that restrained the
furious ones ; sad voices saying :
"Becalm. Not to-night. To-morrow! Then we shall
see ! we shall see ! "
When I reached the Prefecture, I was immediately
summoned by the Chief of the Political Police, M. La-
grange. It was the last time that I saw him. He
received me in the antechamber of his office. He was
dressed as a traveller prepared to take a railway
journey. He said to me :
" Monsieur Claude, you know what has happened.
At midnight there is a special session of the Chamber
to announce the capture of His Majesty. Our Prefect,
by the advice of the Minister of the Interior, has taken
all necessary precautions that order be not disturbed.
Neither the Prefect, nor the Minister, nor I, can have
any effect on the population, for I know very well that
to-morrow all Paris will be beside itself and outside of
the law. Men like us, faithful under misfortune, will
be suspected. All we can do is to group ourselves
at the Tuileries, with General Trochu around the
Empress-Regent. In the name of order, you must
act, Monsieur Claude, — you who have nothing to fear,
as I myself would act, — in the interests of the popula-
tion. See that order reigns in Paris. Give your whole
care to that ; as for us, we should only aggravate the
Before I could say a single word in reply M. La-
grange had left me. Under the grave responsibility
thus suddenly put upon me I wished to consult my
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 297
superiors. I went up to the offices of the General Di-
rection of the Prefecture. I found them deserted. It
was now one o'clock in the morning. The night session
of the Chamber had already begun. Jules Favre had
proclaimed the overthrow of the Empire.
During the first shock of indignation that ran through
Paris from midnight to midday and transformed, without
the shedding of a single drop of blood, Imperial France
into Republican France, I did not quit the Prefecture.
Trusting to the promise of M. Thiers, and faithful to
the request of my former superior, I remained at my
post, awaiting events, to ward off violence from what-
ever quarter it came. I ought to say, to the equal hon-
our of the vanquished party and the triumphant party,
that I simply had to continue under the new power the
service laid upon me by the departing regime.
After the morning session of the last Assembly of
the Empire, which ended as a Republican Assembly,
I received an anonymous note, the handwriting of
which I knew perfectly well. It announced to me the
coming of a new Prefect whose orders I was to obey.
This was the Comte de Keratry, who, in the Assembly,
had just interpellated the fallen power on the military
arrangements made against the people of Paris — an
interpellation that forced General Trochu to abandon
his post at the Tuileries and go to the Hotel de Ville.
As a reward for M. de Keratry 's action the new mixed
government (improvised in the offices of the Legislative
Chamber) appointed him on the spot as Prefect of
298 MEMOIRS OF
While awaiting the orders of the new Prefect thus
appointed by the Republican Government, — or, as it
was then called, the Government of National Defence,
— I continued to execute the orders of my former
chiefs. In sending, under command of certain officers,
eight hundred policemen to guard the approaches to
the Chamber, I was careful to select as their leaders
men who had not belonged to the former political
brigade. I also watched that the neighbourhood of
the Prefecture should have a tranquil air, as if nothing
abnormal were taking place in Paris.
I was notified that the National Guard had been
called out by the Deputies of the Left. The total
absence of my late chiefs showed me plainly that the
evolution into a new government was an accomplished
fact, and that the question was much more protection
against its too ardent disciples than precautions against
the fallen Empire. I had too much experience in revo-
lutions not to act under the directions of the anony-
mous note which had come to me from the transformed
At that crucial moment, the Chamber called up all
the men of the Revolution of 1848. Jules Favre, Thiers,
Cremieux, fitienne Arago, and Garnier-Pages became
a tutelary and temporising power against the impatient
spirits of Belleville. To the younger ones — Gambetta,
Rochefort, etc. — were given only secondary roles. It
now became a vital question of how to unite, in the
name of military fraternity, the army under Trochu,
the police under Keratry, and the National Guard
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 299
against the soldiers of Flourens and Blanqui, against
the Republicans of Belleville and La Villette.
The Revolution of September 4, 1871, was accom-
plished without a shot being exchanged, because the
most perfect order never ceased to be maintained be-
tween the people, half-stunned by the frightful defeat,
and the members of the legislative body. It is true
that the police whom I had sent under the orders of
my former chiefs, and the citizens, sent by order of
their "centurions," eyed each other suspiciously; but
when the news spread that the National Guard had
been called out to protect the revolution, and when the
populace saw advancing among them none but the
deputies who had voted against the war, the crowd
calmed down. And it remained calm because not a
minister, not a deputy of the imperialist majority showed
himself on the Place de la Concorde.
When the National Guard arrived, it was headed by
a carriage in which were three deputies in uniform in
order to encourage the fraternizing of the civil guard
with the military guard under General Trochu. For
a moment every one thought there would be fighting
between the Nationals and the Garde de Paris, which
was stationed at the end of the bridge. The officer in
command of the latter seemed to hesitate. Forty thou-
sand eyes were fixed upon him. There was an instant of
terrible suspense. Then the officer, suddenly turning
his eyes to the dome of the Tuileries, saw that the flag
no longer floated from it and called to his men :
" Sheathe sabres !" and the danger was over.
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During this time, the Prefecture was not forgotten.
I had not left it all night. After midday a company of
the third arrondissement arrived, led by the Comte de
Keratry. My new Prefect came to take possession of his
post. I did the honours in receiving him. He greeted
me with great cordiality, the secret of which came from
my interview the night before with M. Thiers. It was
now about three o'clock.
As soon as my new Prefect had taken possession of
the Prefecture, his first care was to affix the seals in
the offices of the late Prefect and of the Chief of the
Political Division, both of whom, as I have said, had
fled. As soon as this ceremony began, I was struck,
like every one else, with the disorder that reigned in
the private rooms; a disorder that explained why, dur-
ing the last two days, the heads of the administration
at the Prefecture had received no one, and why all
the chimneys of the Prefecture had smoked.
Traces of destruction, or of abduction, were every-
where visible. The book-cases, the closets, the drawers
of the desks and writing-tables were empty. On the
shelves were fifty or more boxes, from which all docu-
ments had been taken. On the tables lay, pell-mell, the
registers and record-books, from which leaves had been
torn. The stoves, the fireplaces, were choked with
papers either reduced to ashes or blackened by flames.
For the last few days my chiefs, preparatory to depart-
ure, had destroyed everything that could compromise
the servants of the Empire.
I now received from my new Prefect an order to go
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 301
to the Tuileries, which the Empress had left that morn-
ing. She departed, as all other fallen sovereigns of that
palace had departed, at the moment when she least ex-
pected to go. She went because, wishing herself to resist
the revolution, she found none around her but men who,
from the least to the greatest, had all lost their heads.
As she left the palace she said, justly and bitterly :
"No one should be unfortunate in France, where
every one abandons them ! "
I could now look coolly at the situation of the
new government which I was about to serve. The order
I had received to go to the Tuileries, invaded by the
people, showed me plainly the role I was expected
to play, namely, to control the rear-guard of the revo-
Was M. Thiers playing at this moment, in 1870, the
part that Lamartine had played in 1 848 ?
At any rate, I, former servant of the Empire, had
grown in importance within a few hours, solely because
I had become the body-guard of the leaders improvised
on the 4th of September. The Comte de Keratry sent
me to the Tuileries with a company of resolute men,
old soldiers of the last reign, so that the friends of
Flourens and Blanqui should not enthrone themselves
in the Tuileries and the Hotel de Ville, as they had
already done at the Palais Bourbon. The Parisian
bourgeoisie had good reason to be afraid of the revolu-
tion (an act of justice, however), because behind it was
the Red Spectre, and behind the Red Spectre was the
3 o2 MONSIEUR CLAUDE
And who, and what were the men who put themselves
at the head of the great heroic movement of Paris,
stirred by patriotism ? Jules Favre, Cremieux, Etienne
Arago, Garnier-Pages — the Ghosts of the Revolution
What was I, myself, in this great popular movement ?
A faithful servant, a sincere patriot, it is true, but one
who, by reason of my age, my past, and my convictions,
w r as thrust into a path foreign to my nature and to my
Alas ! the revolution, which had caused a phantom
of power to vanish, w 7 as led by none but Phantoms !
Meanwhile, the Prussians were advancing !
INSTALLATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
OF SEPTEMBER 4
WHEN I reached the Tuileries with my
agents I found I had no police work to do
in protecting the palace from invaders. The
dramatic author, Sardou, had taken that care upon
himself. When I entered the garden filled with an
immense crowd I heard, mingled with cries of Vive la
Republique ! shouts of Vive Sardou! I own that in the
gravity of events, in the terrible situation of France,
the apparition of this dramatic writer seemed to me
a little anomalous ; it gave me a sad sense of the levity
of Parisians who carry the burlesque even into solemn
drama, — for the Parisian amuses himself, and would
forever amuse himself, had he his feet in blood ! Did
he not dance around the guillotine of '93 ? Did he not
give concerts in the palace of the Tuileries the night
before the day on which the Commune burned it in
The crowd applauded the dramatic author who, they
said, had led with bared head and naked breast the
National Guard against the Imperial Guard. Possibly
they applauded, because the author's profile bore like-
304 MEMOIRS OF
ness to the Bonaparte of the great days, and the sight
came to them at the moment when they were driving
from the Tuileries the man who was but a caricature
of the great Bonaparte.
However that may have been, Sardou's initiative in
occupying the Tuileries the instant the Empress left it
was a good thing. He, who did not aspire to enter the
Government, was prompted to play the part of hero on
the barricades by the same object that I had, namely,
to protect the Tuileries from thieves and incendiaries.
His act was, as I suppose, a dramatic scene which that
witty mind thought opportune and useful to introduce
into the great drama of Paris. Sardou transformed
himself on this occasion into a lightning-rod. His
presence sufficed to ward off the thunderbolt that
threatened the old palace of our kings — the burning
of the Tuileries was postponed for eight months !
When I entered the apartments of the palace, already
guarded by the National Guard, I found them exactly
as the Empress had left them an hour or two earlier.
Like King Louis-Philippe, she did not abandon the
Tuileries until compelled to do so by those who sur-
rounded her. Like the ex-King she fled at her breakfast
hour, but not until her regency was no longer a pos-
sible thing. I saw the table as she had left it, the egg-
cup overturned which had contained the boiled egg of
her simple meal.
When she left the Tuileries she was still surrounded
by a few faithful friends, and by two of the foreign
ambassadors, Prince Metternich and the Chevalier di
EMPRESS II GENIE
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 305
Nigra. She did not decide to leave the palace to " the
people " until the Chief of the Political Police, who
had abandoned his post, came to warn her that "it was
time to fly."
Even then she did not go till the National Guards,
led by Sardou, entered the palace in spite of the efforts
of General Mellinet to moderate if not to repulse them.
Then it was that the Empress said the words I have
already quoted : " Let no one be unfortunate in France,
for every one abandons them ! "
The installation of the new Government of Septem-
ber 4 was done peacefully and amiably. The Comte
de Keratry came to the Prefecture with only one clerk.
The 4th of September was a day of hand-shaking —
I do not say that it was not a " day of dupes " as well.
For the future Commune, which had prepared it, and
the imperialists, who had dreaded it, were both thinking,
from that day forth, of a revenge for what they each
called a " deception " and a " usurpation of power."
The revolution of September 4 was (on a different
stage) the same deception, the same " surprise," as that
of February, 1848; each put off, for a time, a terrible
revolution. The days of June, 1848, have for their pend-
ant the Bloody Week [of the Commune]. 1
But the clouds would not be long, I knew, in gather-
ing in the still clear sky of the new Republic, acclaimed
1 It is surprising that so little is remembered and said about the Com-
mune and its horrors. It was short, to be sure ; but the atrocities and
massacres then committed — committed in our own day — were even more
infernal than those of the great Revolution. An account of them can be
found in M. Maxime Du Camp's Paris under the Commune. — [Tr.]
306 MEMOIRS OF
by the French people while the Prussians were invad-
ing France! M. Thiers, whom I saw after Septem-
ber 4, was to me the living demonstration of what I
But what of that ! the 4th of September was to the
people a true fete-day. They forgot, in the joy of re-
conquering their liberty, the enemy at their gates pre-
paring to conquer their country. They surrounded
the Hotel de Ville, eager to gaze on Henri Rochefort,
who, like the other prisoners of the Empire, was borne
there in triumph to form part of the new Government.
In this parliamentary revolution, Jules Favre was the
incarnation of the vengeance for December, '51;
Rochefort and Gambetta were the incarnation of social
I repeat, there was wide space between the Govern-
ment of Jules Favre, Thiers, Cremieux, Arago, Garnier-
Pages, Trochu, etc., and that desired by the last
Elected of the Opposition. The distance between them
was that of the Capitol from the Tarpeian Rock, and
the Revolution of Paris, which it brought about at
the moment of the invasion, became a trump-card in
I knew too well the self-interested supporters of
the Empire to believe in their total disappearance. The
hurricane of September 4 had swept them out of
Paris only to leave them on the frontiers of France,
there to concert together and await the moment for
their return to the capital. I had known too well the
secret springs of the riots of June, '48, the support
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 307
given in England to the Prince-Pretender, not to fear
that Prussia, hating France, would make a volte-face
in favour of her prisoner. Would it not be for Prussia
an easy means of defeating those who preferred war to
the death rather than accept a degrading peace ? As
I thought of these things the words of Mme. X
came back to me.
What consoled me personally under the misfortunes
of my country and the reckless joy of the Parisians
was the importance I had gained in the wholly original
situation given me by the Revolution of September;
a temporising revolution, whose serene sky, though
even then hot and heavy, was, alas ! the forerunner of
a double tempest — the Siege and the Commune. In
this calm before a storm I had grown by many cubits.
My long experience, my antecedents, my struggles
against the occult administration of the Empire were
so many titles of recommendation to the new powers.
Most of them, M. de. Keratry especially, knew the ties
that bound me to M. Thiers, whose hand had guided
the coming revolution ever since the Ollivier Ministry
From the day of the installation of my new Pre-
fect, I did all that in me lay to prove to him that
I had no regrets for the fallen regime — fallen far more
through public contempt than through foreign adver-
As soon as the Prefect received orders from the Hotel
de Ville to set at liberty the political prisoners lately
condemned by the courts of justice, I hastened to exe-
3 o8 MEMOIRS OF
cute those commands of the Government of National
Defence. It certainly was a curious thing for me and
my agents, who had assisted the legal officers to incar-
cerate Megy, Paschal Grousset, Razoua, Trinquet,
Rochefort, and others, — it was curious for us to open
the doors of their prison, we who had locked those
doors upon them a few months earlier !
Strange shifting of political things, which brought
me to the fore and raised me only to make my ultimate
fall the more terrible ! It was written above that I
should be, to the end, the plaything of the flux and
reflux of revolutions, and that they should spare me
none of the buffetings of their violent eddies.
And yet, God knows, I have never been a man of
politics ; I have never felt other hatreds than those in-
spired in me by criminals of the worst species. For my
merit, my only merit, has been to discern a scoundrel
at a glance through the instinctive aversion he inspired
in me, whether he was the lowest of blackguards or the
highest of princes.
Shortly after September 4, which had changed no-
thing at the Prefecture except by substituting a Repub-
lican Prefect in place of a henchman of the Empire, I
was sent for by the active and indefatigable M. Thiers.
I went at once to his house in the rue Saint-Georges,
thinking of his luck and that of his friends, which, like
mine, alas! came from the disasters of France. I was
therefore much surprised to find him as peevish and
morose as he had been sad and tearful on the eve of
the imperial downfall.
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 309
When he saw me he frowned, crossed his arms on
his breast, and advanced upon me, saying in his clearest
and most strident voice :
" Ha! Monsieur Claude, fine things you are doing!"
I stood aghast and open-mouthed. For a moment
I did not know what answer to make. Seeing that, he
went on, smiling bitterly :
" Pardon me, my good friend ; it is not you I in-
criminate, it is your chiefs. You — you are nothing but
an instrument of the new power."
" But," I said, " am I not now with the chief of the
new Government ? "
II Oh ! " he exclaimed, shrugging his shoulders and
walking up and down with all the activity of his little
legs. " Oh ! if I was the chief of those blunderheads, it
is not I who would have ordered you to let loose the
political prisoners of the Empire ! At the moment when
Paris has n't fifteen days before her to prepare to receive
the Prussians, the Government had something else to
do than think about the martyrs of liberty and caress all
the democratic prejudices of the people! "
At these words my mouth opened wider than ever.
This speech of M. Thiers bewildered me more than his
rough reception. And yet I began to understand the
ill humour of my illustrious patron. He showed me its
cause as soon as he let me see he was no longer master
of the revolution he had produced.
For M. Thiers throughout his whole life had but one
engrossing thought — to govern and feel himself master
of all things. His numerous disappointments, in 1848,
310 MEMOIRS OF
in 1 85 1, like that he felt at this moment (after having
done everything to grasp the power) came solely from
his inordinate desire to govern. He would have been
willing to govern on a volcano! And it was because
he could not act as he pleased over the crater opened
by the camarilla of Gambetta that he had to govern,
later, at Bordeaux over the volcano of invasion, and at
Versailles over the volcano of the Commune.
" Then, Monsieur Thiers," I asked, " do you condemn
me because I opened the prison doors to Rochefort, to
Megy, to — ?"
" I don't condemn you, not you, Monsieur Claude," he
replied, with a negative gesture and becoming once more
good-humoured; "I condemn those who made you
execute such orders. You are an arm; you are not
a head. When men wish, like your chiefs, to be at the
head of a nation, they need brains, especially at such
a critical moment as the present — and all your chiefs
are scatter-brains ! "
This time I had the keynote of the situation. The
illustrious statesman, who had served as reinforcement
to the Republicans during the Empire, was already dis-
trusted by the new revolution. The men of 1848, like
the old " Five " of the Legislative Chamber, distrusted
at this moment the former Minister of Louis-Philippe,
the former head of the committee of the rue de Poitiers,
the slighted author of the first Napoleonic constitution !
This was why M. Thiers was not at the Hotel de Ville,
whence issued the decrees that made the various admin-
istrations act under the impulsion of a power far stronger
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 311
than that which merely signed the acts of the new
" Yes," continued M. Thiers, taking no further notice
of me, and resuming his habitual petulance, — "yes,
they are all scatter-brains ! At this moment, listen to
what the people are shouting under my windows: Vive la
R'epublique ! Is the Republic what our unhappy nation
ought to think of now? No! It is her existence and
not the form of government that M. Jules Favre or
M. Gambetta may prefer, neither of which will be satis-
factory to the army, which does n't want to be launched
against the people after being ground to powder by
the Prussians ! I see none but lawyers in the new Gov-
ernment, where soldiers are needed ! men of the robe,
forsooth, where we want men of the sword. Trochu
is as tearful as Favre. As for the young ones, they
are nothing but little pettifoggers; they think they
can hold a sword as they hold a paper-knife. I don't
see among all these lawyers who think themselves
generals, and all these generals who talk like lawyers,
a single statesman ! And here we are in face of a Bis-
marck with a Moltke behind him ! As for Rochefort
and those others, I don't speak of them ; they are
nothing but flute-players ! They don't suspect that in
parodying the men of the Convention they insult the
past and compromise the future. You must own, my
dear Claude, that it is not when the nation is invaded
that we want mountebanks at a fair ! The Empire fell
before public contempt ; that sufficed. My colleagues
would not listen to me when I proposed to them to
3 i2 MEMOIRS OF
govern, in the absence of established power, under the
duty of presenting a compact resistance to Germany.
They preferred to give themselves a cockade which
divides France before Germany — a unit to destroy us!
Let the blame fall on those to whom it belongs ! If I
were not a Frenchman I would wash my hands of the
whole concern ! But I am a Frenchman. And so here
am I, forced, at seventy years of age, to quit France
and rush to all the Courts of Europe to induce them
to pity our unhappy fate ! "
" You, Monsieur Thiers," I exclaimed, deeply affected,
"you quit the country when she is in such need of your
ideas and your experience ? "
" It is only to put them, my dear friend, to the serv-
ice of the country that I quit her, — that I make my-
self a colporteur of diplomacy throughout Europe, —
the political Wandering Jew of our unhappy France,
in the hope of restoring to her, in the name of her
glorious past, the prestige that her piteous present is
causing her to lose. Ah ! I expect misunderstandings,
disappointments, in foreign lands ! But I will take my
share of punishment ! Son of the Revolution, I too am
devoured by that mother-in-law ! Ah ! when I think
that she is here still, an idol ! — Don't let us talk of it !
I go to save France in Europe; for that end I am
determined to scour the world ! It is hard, hard, at my
age, and to my patriotism ! But what else can I do ?
I have confidence in no one but myself. Men shall
see if my patriotism, my long experience, are right or
wron^ against the illusions of those lunatics — luna-
MONSIEUR CLAUDE 313
tics who think it suffices, in presence of a million of
Prussians, to get drunk on the traditions of the First
Republic, just as Louis Napoleon got drunk on the tra-
ditions of the First Empire. And now, my dear Claude,
here is what I want of you, of your patriotism, during
Here I pricked up my ears. I knew that M. Thiers
was full of self, but never did I suppose he would push
the love of self to the point of fighting all that did
not emanate from his system or his authority. And yet
I admired the patriotism of the little man, whose lucid
mind was as vigorous as at thirty years of age. I
waited with lively curiosity to know what he was going
to ask of me, determined to do whatever would help his
diplomatic programme. I merely nodded my head, with-
out interrupting him, and he went on, evidently pleased
that I had not done so.
" While I am away from France," he said, " I shall
need to know everything that is done here. Can I
count upon you?"
" Yes, Monsieur Thiers, except for personal denun-
" It concerns France — France to be saved, and
nothing else," he cried, impatiently.
" In that case," I hastened to say, " I am your man."
" I knew it ! " he cried in a softened tone. " You are,
like myself, an honest man, and a good Frenchman.
Well, au revoir, my dear Claude. I shall count on your
daily notes concerning the blunders our new masters
will commit — daily notes, mind you; that's agreed."
314 MONSIEUR CLAUDE
"Yes; if agreed," I replied, "that I do not put names
in those notes."
" You will do as you choose," he said, with a sly-
smile; "if I find names to put to your daily revela-
tions, so much the worse for you."
" That is your affair — as a diplomatist," I returned,
smiling in the same way.
" You will cause me a great deal more work; I, who
already have too much, through the fault of others.
And I must owe this increase of labour to your scruples
as an honest man! Good God! how inconvenient
honest men are ! "
He bowed to me, and I took leave of M. Thiers,
who, from that day forth, knew from me all that hap-
pened in a government which he had made, and in
which he had no part. My notes must have served him
later to repair the faults of the Government of Septem-
ber 4, which, in the name of the Republic, had the same
thwarting weakness as M. Thiers himself — the love of
Events proved it. While changing the form of gov-
ernment, the men of September 4 employed the same
system as the old government. The men of the Em-
pire were worth as much as the men of the Republic —
with more patriotism in their proclamations.
A revolution does not change the temperament of
a people ; and the French people like, above all things,
to feed on illusions !
Adelaide, Princess, death of, 48.
Albano, Marquis, 155-159.
Allard, Monsieur, 18, 19.
Allsop, Thomas, English Socialist, im-
plicated in the Orsini bomb explo-
sion, 115, 116.
Artists' Association, founded by Baron
Autographs of famous people, forgeries
of, 168, 170, 171.
Athalin, General, 19, 20.
B , Princesse de, 95, 96.
Bacciochi, 80, 122.
Bakounine, 114, 115; his opinion of
Barrot, Odilon, 27, 53.
Baune, Citizen, 52.
Bazaine, Marshal, in command at Metz,
Baze, Monsieur, 73, 76.
Begand, Monsieur, 4.
Beauregard, Comtesse de, title confer-
red by Napoleon III on Miss How-
Bcranger, 124, 125, 127, 128, 129; efforts
of " Internationalists " to create dis-
turbance at funeral of, thwarted by
ruse of M. Claude, 132.
Bernard, Simon, French refugee, ac-
complice of Orsini in attempted as-
sassination of Napoleon III, 1 1 5, 1 16.
Berryer, 77, 137.
Billault, Monsieur, Minister of the In-
terior, under Napoleon III, 108; dis-
missed after Orsini plot, 121.
Bismarck, 133, 134, 262, 269.
Boissy, Marquis de, 104.
Boitelle, Monsieur, succeeds Pietri as
Prefect of Police, 121.
Bonaparte family, plot of, against Louis-
Bonaparte, Prince Louis Napoleon, mili-
tary plot of, 19, 20; imprisoned, 39;
elected President of Second French
Republic in 1848, 64; conspired
against the Republic up to the time
of the Coup d'Etat, 64 ; as Napoleon
III established Second Empire, 79;
attempted assassination of , 108-110;
decides on war with Prussia, 262 ;
leaves Paris for the front, 264 ; after
defeat at Forbach retreats to Metz,
276; defeated and captured at Sedan,
290 ; end of the Second Empire, 293-
Bonaparte, Prince Pierre, 210; impris-
oned for murder of Victor Noir, 242 ;
story of incidents leading up to affair,
Brea, General, assassination of, 64.
Broglie, Due de, 77.
Brunswick, Duke of, 173-183.
C , Prince de, suicide of, 90-92.
Cabinet Noir, suppressed in 1830, re-
Carbonari, 3, 114; Orsini and, 115.
Caussidiere, Prefect of Police under the
Second Republic, 54.
Cavaignac, General, 64, 73.
Cavour, and Napoleon III, 118.
Chambre Noire, installed by Napoleon
III at Tuileries,8o; the secret police
Changarnier, General, 73.
Charassin, Citizen, 52.
Charles X, 3, 11, 28.
Charras, Colonel, 73.
Chasles, Michel, 170.
Choiseul-Praslin, Due de, crime of,
chief element in precipitating the
revolution of 1848, 49-52; commits
Choiseul-Praslin, Duchesse de, murder
of, by husband, 50, 51.
Claude, Monsieur, birth, 1 ; comes to
Paris at age of 19, 1 ; recommended to
M. de L , 1 ; clerk to an attorney,
2 ; becomes policeman by chance,
3, 9 ; deputy clerk of the Court of the
Seine in 1830, 10 ; becomes secre-
tary of provisional government in
July, 1830, 25, 26; under Louis-
Philippe resumes duties as court
clerk, 31; meets Louis Napoleon at
famous Cabaret du Lapin Blanc in
an exciting adventure, 32-37 ; be-
comes commissary of police, 44, 45 ;
dismissed from office as commissary
of police in 1848, 54 ; secretary to
Monsieur de L after revolution of
1848, 59 ; again commissary of police
under Napoleon before the Coup d'
Etat, 62 ; remarkable interview with
Monsieur Thiers, 69-73 ; reflections
by, on the Coup d'Etat, 76, 77 ; or-
dered to disperse Chamber of Depu-
ties at time of Coup d'Etat, 85 ; un-
wittingly protects the good name of
Mile, de Montijo, 89-99 ; warned by
Madame X of the Orsini plot
against the life of Napoleon III,
103-107; causes the prompt arrest,
after explosion of Orsini bombs, of
principal conspirators, 1 13, 1 14 ; made
Chief of Police under Napoleon
III, 122; cleverly outwitted by
swindler, 126, 127 ; pays visit to
Beranger, 128, 129; prevents demon-
stration of " Internationalists " at fun-
eral of Beranger, 132; unsuccessful
attempt of, to capture Jud, murderer
of M. Poinsot, 140-145; mysterious
connection of Prussian officers with
affair, 144, 145 ; report on Jud affair
suppressed, 146; has a second inter-
view with M. Thiers, 186, 187 ; arrests
Tropmann for Kinck murders, 217;
is sent to Metz in charge of Emper-
or's baggage -train, 264; saves the
Emperor's baggage after retreat
from Forbach, 271-275; is com-
plimented by the Emperor for his
bravery, 276, 277 ; returns to Paris,
279 ; left alone in the Prefecture of
Police after the fall of the Second
Empire, 291 ; confers with Monsieur
Thiers, 293, 294.
Closerie des Lilas, 126, 127.
Commerson, establishes newspaper
Constant, Benjamin, 3, 7.
Cornemuse, General, 15 1; killed in duel,
Coup tfEtat, the, 62-78; engineered
by the same men who destroyed the
government of Louis -Philippe, 62 ;
incidents of, described, 65, 66.
Da Silva, Portuguese accomplice in
Orsini's attempt on life of Napo-
leon III, 113; real name, Rudio,
David, Felicien, 66.
D'Azy, Benoist, 86.
Delavigne, Casimir, 27.
Delessert, Monsieur, Prefect of Police
under Louis-Philippe, 55.
De Tocqueville, 77.
Dumas, Alexandre, pere, 192, 193.
Dupin, Baron, 27; President of the
Chamber of Deputies, 85.
VEcureuil [" the Squirrel "], 153, 154.
Espinasse, General, 67, 121.
Eugenie, Empress, 100, 101, n. ; com-
pelled to flee from the Tuileries, 304,
l'Eure, Dupont de, 3.
Favre, Jules, 52, 136, 137, 139; counsel
for Orsini, 120; proclaims the fall of
the Second Empire in the Chamber
of Deputies, 295.
Fonvielle, Ulrich de, 243-245.
Forey, General, 86.
Gambetta, 298, 310.
Gambling, under the Second Empire,
153 ; gambling clubs established, 154.
Gomez, accomplice of Orsini in at-
tempted assassination of Napoleon
Government of September 4, 1870, or-
ganized, 299; National Guard called
Gringoire, Bishop, 14.
Grousset, Paschal, 244.
Gueroult, Adolphe, 196.
Guizot, 27, 53.
Haute PZgre, 162-164.
Hebert, Monsieur, arrests Pieri, accom-
plice of Orsini, immediately before
bomb explosion, 112, 113.
Howard, Miss, English mistress of
Prince Louis Napoleon, 65 ; abduc-
tion and end of, 148, 149; son of, by
Louis Napoleon, died in September,
1907, 149 n.
Hyrvoix, 80, 122.
fndicateurs, secret police agents under
Second Empire, 82.
Irving, Washington, 101 n.
Journalism under the Second Empire,
Jud, assassin of M. Poinsot, 134; mys-
tery in connection with, 140.
July Monarchy, 22, 23.
Keratry, Comte de, appointed Prefect
of Police by the Government of Sep-
tember 4, 297.
L , Monsieur de, Bonapartist con-
spirator, 23, 24 ; companion of Prince
Louis Napoleon in Paris slums, 37,
38 ; advises M. Claude to become a
Bonapartist, 57 ; senator under Sec-
ond Empire, 79.
Lacenaire, George, dinner at the Veau
qui tete, 4 ; poses as an ultra-radical,
7, 8 ; arrested for theft, 9.
Lafarge, Madame, 51, 60, 61.
Lafayette, General, 4, 40, 41.
Lagrange, Charles, 52,81, 122, 124, 196.
La Hode, Lucien de, secret agent of
the police, 53.
Lamoriciere, General, 73, 77.
Lanot, Commissary of Police, in.
Lapin Blanc, Cabaret du, adventure of
M. Claude in, 32-36 ; resort for the
Haute Pegre, 34.
Lasteyrie, Jules de, 77.
Ledru-Rollin, 17, 53, 63, 64, 124.
Le Flo, General, 73, 74, 77.
Loban, General, 14.
Louis-Philippe, Citizen -King, 10; plot
of Bonapartists against, 19-22 ; fall
of kingdom of, partly result of re-
volting crime of Due de Choiseul-
Praslin, 46, 49-52.
Louis XIV, 142, 143.
Lucas, Vrain, 170.
Luynes, Due de, 77.
Magnan, General, 66.
Marrast, Armand, editor of Le National '
Marx, Karl, 114.
Maupas, Monsieur de, Prefect of Police
under Louis Napoleon, 66; active
participant in Coup d'Etat, 66, 67.
Mazzini, 106, 107, 109; not implicated
in any way in Orsini's attempt on life
of Napoleon III, 116, 117; quarrels
with Orsini, 118.
Mazzinienne, la, 83, 84 ; friend of Or-
Mires, Monsieur, 87.
Mocquart, confidant of Louis Napoleon
and Miss Howard, 148, 149.
Montalivet, Louis-Philippe's Minister
of the Interior, 12 ; offers cross of
the Legion of Honour to Raspail,
Montijo, Madame de, 90; her efforts
to corrupt M. Claude, 91, 93; her
stormy scene with the Princesse de
B , 96.
Morny, Due de, 23; one of the conspir-
ators of the Coup d'Etat, 66.
Nadaud, Citizen, 86, 87.
Napoleon I, 23, 143.
Napoleon II, 20, 21, 39, 42.
Napoleon III (see Bonaparte, Louis
Nina-Fleurette, mistress of Louis Na-
poleon, 36, 37.
Newspapers under Second Empire,
Noir, Victor, killed by Prince Pierre
Bonaparte, 245; exciting scenes at
funeral of, 254, 255.
Ollivier, Emile, 206, 207.
Orfila, Monsieur, toxicologist, 51, 59,
60 ; death of, 61.
Orsini, Felice, 84 n.; plot of, to murder
the Emperor, 103-121 ; explosion of
bombs by, at the Opera House, 108-
112; execution of, 121.
Oudinot, General, 77, 86.
Pelissier, Marshal, 121.
Percy (Pieri), Joseph Andre, an accom-
plice of Orsini in the attempted as-
sassination of Napoleon III, 106,
107; executed, 121.
Perier, Casimir, President of the Coun-
cil of Ministers under Louis -Philippe,
11, 13, 14 ; active in frustrating plots
against Government of Louis-Phil-
ippe, 19; exposes Bonapartist plot,
Pietri, Monsieur, Prefect of Police un-
der Napoleon III, 108; dismissed
after Orsini conspiracy, 121.
Poinsot, Monsieur, Judge of Imperial
Court, assassination of, 134; myste-
rious comment of Jules Favre on
death of, 137.
Police, the, under the Second Empire,
79-88 ; perfect spy system inaugu-
rated, 80 ; ramifications of, in French
society, 80; Corsicans play leading
part in, 81, 121, 122.
Prussia, plotting to regain Alsace after
Prussienne, la, 83, 84.
Raspail, Francois Vincent, President
of the Society of the Amis du Peuple,
1 1 ; declines cross of the Legion of
Honour, 13 ; arraigned for seditious
articles in Tribune, 15, 16; extract
from letter written while in prison,
Ristori, Madame, 109.
Rochefort, Henri, director of the Fi-
garo, 198; establishes the Lanterne,
Roguet, General, no, in; seriously
wounded in Orsini bomb explosion,
Royer, Alphonse, 112.
Rudio, under name of Da Silva, ac-
complice of Orsini in attempted as-
sassination of Napoleon III, 115.
Saint-Arnaud, Minister of War under
Louis Napoleon, 66; active partici-
pant in Coup d'Etat, 77 ; fights duel
with General Cornemuse, 151 ; sent
to Crimea, 152; death of, 152.
Saint-Leu, Duchesse de, mother of
Louis Bonaparte, 20; visits Louis-
Philippe, 20 ; plot of, discovered, 2 1 ;
Samson, the great comedian, 29.
Sand, George, fraudulent portrait of,
Sardou, protects the Tuileries after
the fall of the Second Empire, 303,
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Duke of, 108.
Sebastiani, General, Minister of For-
eign Affairs under Louis -Philippe,
Shaw, valet of the Duke of Brunswick,
176; robs the Duke of two millions
in diamonds, 178, 179; trial of, 181,
Sociiti des Droits de r Homme, $2.
Societies, secret, and the police under
Louis-Philippe, 10-30 ; under Napo-
leon III, 80.
Swiney, assumed name of Gomez, ac-
complice of Orsini in attempted
assassination of Napoleon III, 113.
Talleyrand, Prince, 17, 24, 25, 26.
Taylor, Baron, 27, 28 ; founder of artis-
tic associations in Paris, 29, 30.
Thiers, Monsieur, 23, 24 ; and the pro-
visional government in 1830, 25, 26;
advises M. Claude in crisis of Coup
d'Etat, 69-73 ; imprisoned, 74, 76,
87 ; elected to the Chamber of Depu-
ties in 1863, 186; plots against the
Second Empire, 187, 188; fails to
control Government of September
4, 1870, 310, 314.
Thomas, Clement, drills members of
the Sociiti des Droits de V Homme,
Thomas, Emile, abduction of, 63, 64.
Ticknor, George, 100 n.
Trochu, General, 269, 270, 287, 299.
Tropmann, 210; incidents of murders
of Kinck family by, and arrest of,
described, 211-236; trial of, for mur-
der of Kinck family, 237-240 ; con-
demned to death and executed, 240 ;
connects Prussian influence with his
Vae'z, Gustave, 112.
Veau qui tete, 4.
Ventriloque, le [" the Ventriloquist "],
153, 154 ; exposure by, of " crooked "
gambling games, 157.
Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy, 118,
119, 120, 133.
Vidocq, Monsieur, 18, 166.
Villemessant, 198, 200 ; establishes the
X , Madame, spy of Prince Louis
Bonaparte, 58 n. ; warns Monsieur
Claude of the plots of Orsini against
Napoleon III, 103-106; report by,
on affair resulting in killing of Victor
Noir by Prince Pierre Bonaparte,
251-253 ; predicts return of Bona-
partists after fall of Second Empire,
CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS
U • S • A